The celebrity voice actor dilemma
It so happens that I caught Hugh Grant on the Ellen Degeneres Show yesterday.
Her first question was why would they ask him to play a character that doesn’t sound like Hugh Grant?
His answer was that they probably wanted him so he would go on all these talk shows and promote the movie. (The Pirates! Band of Misfits. In theaters now!)
There is something to what both of them say.
In many animated movies they don’t want their celebrities to stray at all from their regular speaking voice.
Sometimes it works out well, especially when they are playing a human character that isn’t too far from what they would play in a live action movie. And some celebrities are blessed with naturally expressive voices that can really bring an animated character to life.
However, a lot of the time they're using their regular voices to play animals or something even more unusual, and the results are far from convincing.
Sometimes I just can’t buy the voice for the character. There have been times where I’m watching the movie and at the same time I’ve got the image in my mind of the actor in a sound booth reading their lines. Their voice coming out of something else’s mouth isn’t a good match.
But aren't a good deal of the movie going public going to these movies because of the big name and they want to know exactly which character they are?
That means money.
And with the enormous cost of these movies they are more often then not going to error on the side of money.
I guess I have more respect for actors that show up to work and act then I do for someone who just came to read some lines and pick up a paycheck.
Like Hugh Grant says, people are going to know he’s in the movie because he’s out there doing the press tour.
Maybe it’s the same as with all movies: the difference is whether people want see actors, who you forget about because they’ve disappeared into their roles, or if they are going to see movie stars in a ‘look at me’ role.
It’s the same way I think Gary Oldman is a great actor because of how he embodies different characters.
Then again, if Jack Nicolson was asked to do a womanizing polecat, he would be a great womanizing polecat.
So, what's to be done?
Actors just being themselves seems lazy and might not be that great in the part.
On the other hand throwing themselves into the part risks loosing some commercial appeal.
I like veteran voice actors.
The Lorax I only could recognize (but I knew who played who for main characters) Betty White's voice because that's exactly how she sounded like on The Simpsons' "Missionary Impossible"
I think she could do a real PBS station pledge drive because of that guest role on The Simpsons.
Speaking of PBS and guest roles: http://www.toonzone.net/forums/showt...uest-star-role
I can list just as many celebrities who have done great jobs as I can celebrities who were very boring.
I think the only time I've ever been severely bothered by the actor direction in animated films was in Shark Tale and Bee Movie.
There have been many, many instances where celebrities did great jobs as voice actors, and today, I see more great performances in animated films than in the early 2000's.
Megamind, Tangled, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Kung Fu Panda (even if they weren't utilized very well) I think all had very good acting and fitting voices.
Even if all of those films didn't have big, big names, most of the people there weren't voice actors.
I think more celebrities are excited about animation roles. Before, it was just kind of a niche thing since not many animated films came out a year, but now (in most of the behind-the-scenes videos I see at least), it seems like they like the break of being off of a camera and still being able to act, as well as the process of animation and seeing their animated character counterparts.
I hadn't really heard much before about actors and animation roles other than stuff like "I didn't know what to expect", etc.
But I think animation studios are also being smarter about their casting... They cast the actors for the name, but also ask them to do a voice fitting to the character so as not to "ruin" everything.
I know how you feel. Like Infusions said there are good performances and there are bad performances. For instance I don't like the voicing in most of the Ice Age movies. When I hear Ray Romano it pulls me right out of the world of the movie so that I am 'watching it' rather than being immersed in it. Voice acting is critical in animation and if the acting doesn't sell you it will detract from the whole movie.
Kung Fu Panda has a pretty star studded cast. Jack Black, Gary Oldman, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie. Though the side characters only have a handful of lines I think all of the voice acting is excellent. Jack Black described the voice acting process very well in an interview (I think). He said that the acting is all in the voice, nothing physical like in live action, which allows him to kind of hone his vocal performance because he doesn't have to worry about his appearance. Po's voice is essentially JB's voice, but he still needs to act to make us believe in the performance and I think he does that very well.