Doing laps in the LA Fishbowl

A Vocal Harvest

Had a couple of days of voice-over work that I would love to replicate the whole year round. You know, the kind of days where you get a call in the early afternoon to send in an audition from home, then you get called by your agent at 5 telling you you’ve got the job and have to go in at 6 to record, then the producers call you in to their studio the next day to have you do some more. And I thought it was just a myth. More, please!

The best part was that  I was hired to be a sound-alike for none other than the uber-cool actor Ken Watanabe. Me! This validation’s come at a good time— at all my Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness sessions I sit and marvel at the other actors: the amazing suppleness of their voices, their mercurial wit, their fast-and-furious banter, and I can’t help, sometimes, but feel a bit… arthritic in comparison. So to nail an actor who’s voice is far from mine is a great boost.

Let’s see, all I need to do is Chow-Yun-Fat and Jet Li, and I’ll have covered practically the entire pantheon of male Asian superstars!

And check.
Just wait ’til they hear my Katharine Hepburn!

Studying Mr. Watanabe’s voice (mostly using The Last Samurai as a guide) yielded a lot of quiet pleasure. Jackie Chan (my patron saint in voice-overs) and Ken Watanabe come from the same lower register of my voice, but the differences in their speaking are quite distinct, even taking into account their different ethnicities. Mr. Chan, like the characters he plays, has a certain broadness to his speech; he’s quite animated (no pun intended) and charming, but simple in his delivery—he saves his flexibility for his movement.

Mr. Watanabe, on the other hand, is first and foremost an actor, and it shows in his delivery. Listen to the colors of his voice, how he employs tone and nuance quite fluidly, and remember that this is not even in a language he was comfortable with at that time. It’s quite impressive.

This gig comes on top of continuing Kung Fu Panda work (only five more episodes to record!) and a voice on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Plus (speaking of pandas), I’ve got a good role in the new World of Warcraft game: Mists of Pandaria which has just come out. I still can’t believe that I’m in this job that I love so very, very much, working (playing, really) with people of the highest caliber of talent, humor and kindness, making funny voices and getting paid for it.

Something to be thankful for, indeed.

Happy Turkey Day!

November 20th, 2012 - Still Life Las Vegas


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