Animation Casting Director Interviewed

07.12.2010

BackStage.com has a feature article on “Actors Casting Directors Love” which mostly covers on-camera actors, but there’s an interesting quote from animation casting director Bernie Van De Yacht that I felt was worth repeating here:

[As] an animation casting director, I generally don’t try to narrow it down to whether they have voiceover experience or not. A good actor is a good actor, no matter what arena they’re acting in. Sometimes it’s a detriment if they’ve done too much voiceover work, because then they tend to sound a little bit cartoonish; sometimes the heart and soul is missing. And if somebody has never done it before and is just a really good actor and can create an entire world in a soundproof booth with a microphone, it’s amazing. It’s kind of like an actor on stage having to do a soliloquy, where they have to hold the interest of the audience by themselves and with nothing else and we have to be able to visualize what they’re saying. And I think that actors who are good at that tend to be very good voiceover actors. They’re the ones that excite us.


Voice Cast Cavalcade: Shrek Forever After

04.29.2010

This article was originally published Feb. 1st 2010 and has since been expanded. Please scroll down for the most recent updates and additions.

Shrek 4 image courtesy of Shrek.com

Shrek Forever After (aka Shrek The Final Chapter in 3D) is reportedly the final film for the Shrek movie franchise scheduled for release May 21st, 2010.

Here’s the plot summary via IMDb.com:

A bored and domesticated Shrek pacts with deal-maker Rumpelstiltskin to get back to feeling like a real ogre again, but when he’s duped and sent to a twisted version of Far Far Away — where Rumpelstiltskin is king, ogres are hunted, and he and Fiona have never met — he sets out to restore his world and reclaim his true love.

Shrek Forever After features returning cast members Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. Other confirmed cast members: comedian Kathy Griffin, Meredith Vieira (The Today Show), Mary Kay Place (Big Love), Lake Bell (Boston Legal), and Kristin Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) as ogre-hunting witches; Jane Lynch (Glee) as Gretched; Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as the ogre leader of an underground resistance group; Megan Fox (Transformers film series) as a princess; Ryan Seacrest (American Idol); and Walt Dohrn as Rumpelstiltskin [Dorhn voiced several incidental characters in Shrek the Third].

Other cast members for the film include (as listed on Wikipedia and IMDb):

* Julie Andrews as Queen Lillian
* John Cleese as King
* Justin Timberlake as King Artie
* Amy Poehler as Snow White
* Maya Rudolph as Rapunzel
* Amy Sedaris as Cinderella
* Cheri Oteri as Sleeping Beauty
* Conrad Vernon as Gingy, Mongo
* Aron Warner as Big Bad Wolf
* Christopher Knights as Three Blind Mice
* Cody Cameron as Pinocchio, The Three Little Pigs
* Chris Miller as Magic Mirror
* Ian McShane as Captain Hook
* Craig Robinson as Cookie
* Regis Philbin as Mabel (Ugly Stepsister)
* Larry King as Doris (Ugly Stepsister)
* John Krasinski as Lancelot

: The Sydney Morning Herald published an interview May 28th with Mike Myers reflecting on his role in the Shrek film series.

: The May 28th print edition of Entertainment Weekly Magazine has a feature article on Shrek Forever After interviewing Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas.

: On May 21st, ABC News interviewed Walt Dohrn, who shares the inspirations for his performance as Rumpelstiltskin:

Dohrn…has worked at DreamWorks Animation for eight years and spent most of that time on the studio’s “Shrek” franchise, says he had mixed emotions about his new job:

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to really step outside my skill set and I have to step outside my dark little room and really put myself out there.'”

Dohrn said he borrowed from a wide range of sources, taking the fast-talking drive of Sean Penn in 1985 film “The Falcon and the Snowman” and infusing the conniving sweetness of a child murderess in 1956 movie “The Bad Seed.”

: The Washington Post published an interview May 21st with Walt Dohrn discussing his role as Rupelstiltskin and his early influences that led him to a career in animation.

: AccessHollywood.com has video interviews from the Shrek Forever After premiere at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival with Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, and a separate interview with Antonio Banderas.

: Via toonzone.net: Walt Dohrn discusses his role as Rumplestiltskin in the LA Times:

Truth be told, Dohrn isn’t even an actor at all. He’s head of story at DreamWorks Animation. “I started writing the scenes with the writers and directors, and we would put the scenes on the wall, and we would just be playing with that voice back and forth,” Dohrn says. “It just started to evolve. Rumple hadn’t been cast and people started falling more and more in love with the voice [I was doing] and the design.”

One of his vocal inspirations was the child murderess in the 1956 film “The Bad Seed” because “there was this fake innocence about her but any minute she could turn. We also liked Bette Davis in ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane’ — that character had the youthfulness with this really scary edge. And then there was the Sean Penn character in ‘The Falcon and the Snowman’ — we got the really fast talking for Rumple from him. It was quite the stew.”

: Movieweb.com attended DreamWorks’ 2010 film presentation on Jan. 15th, and for those who enjoy spoilers Movieweb describes the action from the film.

: Mirror.co.uk published an interview January 31st with Glee cast member Jane Lynch who briefly mentions her role in Shrek Forever After:

I’m playing an ogre called [Gretched] – it’s going to be a bit like It’s A Wonderful Life. I did voiceovers for several years – for radio and television in the mid-90s – and I really enjoy that work. There’s nothing better than voicing a character. You don’t have to worry about what you’re wearing, you’ve got the script in front of you, and it doesn’t involve your body, it’s all about your voice, and it’s really fast work.

And following are some related trailers and interviews via YouTube:

View the official trailer on Shrek.com.


Orson Welles’ Lost Tapes to Provide Narration for Feature Film

04.12.2010

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the late Orson Welles will narrate a holiday feature film thanks to a recently discovered recording by Welles narrating a self-published children’s novel, “Christmas Tails.”

In 1985, just a few months before Welles’ death, author Robert X. Leed (who was friends with Welles) persuaded him to record the narration for his book, but it was never released commercially.

“Christmas Tails” is planned as a live-action/CG hybrid feature for a 2011 holiday release, directed by Todd Tucker and produced by Drac Studios (upcoming hybrid films “Monster Mutt” and “The Smurfs”).

Drac president Harvey Lowry says, “It’s a movie about how Santa’s dog saves Christmas, but on one level, this a story about the discovery of Orson’s lost tapes. This is a substantial find. It’s something that a filmmaker dreams of.”

Lowry had heard a rumor in December 2008 of Welles’ “lost tapes” which were “believed to be Welles’ last professional recordings.” He soon contacted the author (Leed) who confirmed the story and said the tapes had been gathering dust in a closet in his Las Vegas home for 25 years.

“We worked out a deal to option the book, and I got the recordings from him,” Lowry said. He added that the tapes were in such poor condition that they had to be treated with a “chemical bath and baking process at Chemical Records so they could be digitized.”

Some noted Hollywood actors have already expressed interest in being involved with the film.


Jonathan Winters Rumored to Voice Papa Smurf

02.11.2010

UGO.com is reporting that Jonathan Winters will voice Papa Smurf in The Smurfs computer-animated feature expected to release in theaters on July 29, 2011.

IMDb.com and Wikipedia.org both state that John Lithgow and Julia Sweeney are rumored to be involved with the film as well, and IMDb adds that Wallace Shawn is rumored to voice the villain Gargamel, but bear in mind that no cast members have been officially announced or confirmed to date…and neither has Winters either, for that matter. UGO credits a “well placed source,” so take that for what it’s worth.

And speaking of Winters…

Over the course of 2009 I featured individuals here who were very influential in sparking my lifelong interest in character voice acting, like comedy legends Bill Cosby, Rich Little and Stan Freberg.

Jonathan Winters is another early influence, whose amazing skill for improv, quick wit and flair for comedic characters (and character voices) has always fascinated and entertained me. And he’s had a fair amount of animation credits to date, with such memorable guest roles on Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972), and Pogo for President (1980).

But Winters is a man of many talents and a wearer of many hats (quite literally, from his repertoire of hat-wearing characters): comedian, actor, voice talent, artist and author. He’s also recently released an audio production: Jonathan Winters: A Very Special Time, a collection of “soliloquies and psalms” narrated by Winters.

Visit his official website — JonathanWinters.com — to learn more about this marvelous talent and an entertainment legend.

And if you have about 2 hours to watch the Archive of American Television‘s a 5-part comprehensive interview with Winters, it’s well worth viewing:


Featured Voices: Omara Portuondo

02.10.2010

Shoutcastblog.com reports that Latin Grammy-winner and legendary Cuban singer Omara Portuondo has been cast as Moma Odie for the Spanish dub of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (‘Tiana y el sapo’).

Learn more about her career on her official site: OmaraPortuondo.com.

Previous Featured Voices.


Vanity Fair’s Top Hollywood Earners of 2009

02.06.2010

I might have saved this one for the next edition of Frivolous List Friday except that it involves some heretofore unmentioned upcoming animated feature films and details on earnings from voiceovers — a “hot topic” here as one of this blog’s most-read articles.

Names of note on Vanity Fair’s list of “Top Hollywood Earners”:

#7. Ben Stiller: Madagascar film series
– VF: Estimated “$5 million: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (back-end bonus for voice work, and share of DVD)”

#8. Tom Hanks: Toy Story series
– VF: Est. “$15 million: Toy Story 3 (fee for voice work in upcoming “3-D-quel”)”

#12. Adam Sandler: voices in 8 Crazy Nights and upcoming Zookeeper
– VF: Est. “$2 million: Zookeeper (fee for voice work in and producing upcoming animated feature)”

#16. Owen Wilson: voices in Cars and upcoming Cars 2 sequel and Marmaduke
– VF: Est. “$1 million: Marmaduke (fee for voice work in upcoming animated film based on tired comic strip)”

#17. Nicolas Cage: G-Force
– VF: Est. “$2 million: G-Force (back-end bonus for voice work, based on worldwide gross of $285 million)”

#19. Cameron Diaz: Shrek series
– VF: Est. “$10 million: Shrek Forever After (fee for voice work in upcoming 3-D “fourquel”)”

#21. Johnny Depp: voice in upcoming Rango animated feature
– VF: Est. “$7.5 million: Rango (fee for voice work in upcoming animated film)”

#22. Steve Carell: voices in Over the Hedge and upcoming Despicable Me
– VF: Est. “$500,000: Despicable Me (fee for voice work in upcoming animated feature)”

#29. George Clooney: Fantastic Mr. Fox
– Earnings info from Fantastic Mr. Fox not available.

#31. Reese Witherspoon: Monsters vs Aliens
– VF: Est. “$10 million: Monsters vs. Aliens (back end for voice work, based on worldwide gross of $381 million, and share of DVD)”

#40. Brad Pitt: voice in upcoming Megamind feature film
– VF: Est. “$5 million: Megamind (fee for voice work)”

Related post: 4.27.2009 — How Much Do Voice Actors Earn?


‘Weird Al’ Developing Live-Action Movie

01.26.2010

Weird Al Yankovic announced Jan. 25th via his blog that he has signed a deal to develop and direct a live-action TV movie for Cartoon Network.

Although the movie has not officially been green-lit by CN, Al says the script is completed and he’s “about to start a third draft,” adding that “it’s gotten some very positive buzz at the network.”

The movie will feature a “younger, teenage protagonist,” but Al says he will be “making an appearance in it.” Al says he hopes to start shooting the film in the fall, following his 2010 national concert tour (which has not yet been announced).

It’s also worth noting that Al says the movie is the “first thing [he’s] on track to do for [CN].” Al says that CN originally contacted him “to provide some content for them – series, features, animation, live-action… they were open to anything…now all I have to do is start making stuff!”

Update: 1.28.2010 — On Dec. 20, 2009 Al was a guest on Shatner’s Raw Nerve on the Biography Channel where he revealed a more personal side, including discussing for the first time on-camera the loss of his parents in a tragic accident. The complete episode is available in three parts on Biography.com:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thanks to ShadowWing Tronix of BW Media Spotlight for the heads-up on Weird Al’s appearance on “Shatner’s Raw Nerve.”

Related posts:
– 11.18.2009 — Professor Yankovic Explains Auto-Tune
– 7.03.2009 — Weird Al Yankovic News Round-Up