Animation Casting Director Interviewed

07.12.2010 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


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 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

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.

: 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 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.”

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

: 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

Orson Welles’ Lost Tapes to Provide Narration for Feature Film


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

Previous Featured Voices.

Vanity Fair’s Top Hollywood Earners of 2009


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


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

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

Cast Announced for ‘Yellow Submarine’ Remake


Rolling Stone reports:

Director Robert Zemeckis’ 3-D update of the Beatles’ animated “Yellow Submarine” has found its crew of actors to voice the Fab Four, with “The Princess Bride” star Cary Elwes leading the cast as the voice behind George Harrison. According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, Dean Lennox Kelly will voice the John Lennon character, Peter Serafinowicz will play Paul McCartney and Adam Campbell will portray Ringo Starr, and all four actors are reportedly negotiating their deals to appear in the Disney film.

For the performance footage in Zemeckis’ motion-capture take on Yellow Submarine, the Back to the Future director has recruited “The Ultimate Beatles Band,” the Fab Four. Producers for Yellow Submarine have secured the rights to the Beatles’ music, so the songs in the film will come courtesy of the real Fab Four and not the tribute band. By hiring actors to portray the Beatles, Zemeckis is keeping in tradition of the original film, which also employed voice actors in place of the actual band. The Beatles themselves only appeared in the film’s live-action epilogue.

As Rolling Stone previously reported, Zemeckis was interested in bringing in the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, to contribute to the Yellow Submarine remake.

34 Essential Uses of Voiceover in Film


More than a dozen journalists for The Onion’s AV Club contributed to this article on the effectiveness of the voiceover narration for selected films.

I must confess — even as a film buff — I’ve seen less than 10 of the films listed. Time to load up the Netflix queue.

Related post: 7.23.2009 — IFC on Vacillating Voiceovers in Film

Updated: ‘Pee-Wee Herman Show’ Returns with VAs Phil LaMarr, Lori Alan


Phil LaMarr (MAD TV, Futurama, Justice League, Samurai Jack) will star as Cowboy Curtis in the live stage revival of The Pee-wee Herman Show.

UPDATE: 1.11.2010, 11:45 PM (EST) — Voice actor Lori Alan (Family Guy, SpongeBob SquarePants, Metal Gear Solid video game series) stated in an interview published today on that she will be co-starring in the live show as well.

The show has a scheduled run for January 12th – February 7th, 2010 in Los Angeles, CA at Club Nokia @ LA Live, with Paul Reubens (of course) reprising the title role.

Reubens is certainly no stranger to animation voice acting. He voices the recurring character (aptly named) Reuben on CN’s Chowder, and guest-starred on Season 2 of Batman: The Brave and the Bold as the voice of Bat-Mite. He’s voiced characters for a number of other productions, including Tripping The Rift, Rugrats, Teacher’s Pet, and he was the voice of Lock in the stop-motion animated classic The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Pee-wee’s new stage show features “20 puppets and 15 actors” and nearly all of the show’s original cast.

UPDATE: 1.12.2010, 1:00 AM (EST) reports:

Complete casting has been announced for “The Pee-wee Herman Show.”

In addition to Paul Reubens as Pee-wee Herman, the cast will also feature Lynne Marie Stewart as Miss Yvonne; Phil LaMarr as Cowboy Curtis; Jesse Garcia as Sergio, a new character; Josh Meyers as Firefighter; John Moody as Mailman Mike; John Paragon as Jambi; Drew Powell as Bear; Lance Roberts as King of Cartoons; and Lori Alan and Maceo Oliver [performing] voices.

Pee-wee’s talking chair Chairry, Pterri the pterodactyl, Conky the robot, Magic Screen and Randy, will also be on stage…

The late Phil Hartman played Cap’n Carl, and Reubens told the LA Times in August 2009 that he decided to replace Hartman’s character with a brand-new one. “I didn’t want to be looking at someone else playing Phil’s part,” Ruebens says. And Phil LaMarr adds (via Twitter), “No one can replace Phil Hartman. So we’re not even going to try.”

Also absent is Lawrence Fishburne who originally played Cowboy Curtis, but was unavailable due to other committments. According to CNN, Reubens says he did get approval from Fishburne to hire another actor, and versatile character actor Phil LaMarr was an ideal choice to fill the role.

Fishburne did say, however, that he would be interested in reprising his role for a new Pee-wee movie, for which Ruebens says he has high hopes: “I have a movie script that’s based on my CBS TV series, and I thought [the stage show] would be a great way to get that made.”

Visit for more show details and to order tickets.

Related interviews about the show:

– USA Today: Pee-wee Herman reopens Playhouse for L.A. stage show
– Times Aren’t Changing on The Pee-wee Herman Stage Show
– Breakfast with Pee-wee Herman
– Pee-wee Herman makes a play for a comeback

More links added 1.19.2010, 3:25 AM (EST)

– Pee-wee Herman Reveals ‘Playhouse’ Secrets (includes video interview)
– Drew Powell in Cast of Pee-wee Herman Show (plays “Bear” and voices Randy, Mr. Window and the Flower).
– Paul Ruebens Spills the Beans on His Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Movie


– Footage from the Club Nokia press conference (via Hollywood Headliner Magazine):

– Alan Duke interviews Pee-wee:

– Pee-wee guests on Jimmy Kimmel Live (Parts 1 and 2):

Also, be sure to follow Pee-wee on Facebook and Twitter, and you can also follow Phil LaMarr via Twitter.

Update: 1.19.2010, 3:10 AM (EST)TV Squad has a review of Pee-wee’s live show. Here’s an excerpt:

It was a heck of a lot of fun, which is saying a lot because I’ve never been a huge fan of Pee-wee or his classic CBS Saturday-morning show Pee-wee’s Playhouse. But most of the people who were there were die-hard fans, many of whom either caught Pee-wee’s original stage show in the mid ’80s, grew up watching his movies or Playhouse, or likely spent their Saturday mornings in college working on their first weekend high while watching his show.

For fans, it was pure comfort food. The stage was set up exactly like the set of Playhouse, complete with his complement of talking household items: Chairry, Magic Screen, Clocky, Pterri, Fish, etc. Jambi was also there to grant Pee-wee his wishes.

TV Squad’s article adds that some celebrities were sighted in the audience, including Neil Patrick Harris and “The Simpsons” producer Al Jean. also has a slideshow of images from the show with accompanying review. Here’s an excerpt:

[T]his show is visually entrancing, fiercely idiosyncratic, and generally hilarious. Pee-wee has returned as wholly entertaining and willfully weird as ever.

This is a fan’s paradise…

The word of the day was “fun,” and so long as the crowd is there to yell and scream along, The Pee-wee Herman Stage Show will continue delivering just that.

Updates: 1.28.2010 lists some of the many celebrities who have attended Pee-wee’s live show. The article also includes a cast photo with Phil LaMarr in costume as Cowboy Curtis and Lori Alan looking lovely in a powder blue party dress.

– The OCRegister reviews the show:

“The Pee-wee Herman Show”…is all about shtick, teasing and crazy asides that are far more fun than the story.

Perhaps the best thing about Pee-wee’s world is its unabashed celebration of eccentricity. Pee-wee reminds us of childhood and all of its peaks and valleys in an honest, unvarnished and utterly convincing way.

Phil LaMarr has the biggest boots to fill – Cowboy Curtis was originally played by Laurence Fishburne. LaMarr is a capable comic actor who manages to make us forget about his predecessor right away.

Variety review:

Today’s secret word is … delight — especially for fans of Paul Reubens’ iconic man-child, Pee-wee Herman, who has reemerged in an adaptation of the stage show that started it all almost 30 years ago. It’s a trip down memory lane…

Phil LaMarr steps into the boots of Cowboy Curtis, the role originated by Laurence Fishburne. LaMarr is charming as the would-be beau of Miss Yvonne.

LA Times review (including show photos!):

I wish “The Pee-wee Herman Show” was a little less reheated. Still, I’m glad [it’s] back. [A]s far as I’m concerned, this marks the restart of a beautiful old friendship.

Added: 1.05.2010 — Funny or Die Video: Pee-wee Gets an iPad, featuring the voice of Lori Alan as Chairry and Magic Screen, Josh Meyers as Clocky and Conky, and Lance Roberts as Globey.

Thanks to Takineko for the heads-up.


Original post continued…

In related news, LaMarr guest-starred on ABC’s Castle in a recurring role as Dr. Holloway for the Season 2 episodes “The Fifth Bullet” and “Vampire Weekend,” the latter of which is currently available on

This gives me an opportunity to mention a related, older news I’ve been meaning to post via Frederator Blogs: the on-again/off-again Samurai Jack movie (for which it was previously announced that LaMarr would return to voice the title character)… well, it’s back “on-again” since Cartoon Network in 2007 granted Frederator Studios the rights to produce an animated film “as long as [they] agreed that Genndy [Tartakovsky] would be intimately involved.”

Frederator Studios founder Fred Seibert met with Genndy in September 2009 who was “thrilled” with the news that he would finally have a chance to “finish what he’d started, and reclaim a special set of characters he’d created.”

Seibert goes onto say that he will be co-producing the film with J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Lost) through Abrams’ company Bad Robot Productions at Paramount Pictures. Seibert says Abrams is a “huge Jack fan” and adds, “We knew that with JJ and his producing partner Bryan Burk we’d be in more than good hands and improve our chances tremendously of actually seeing the movie on the big screens.”

No major developments have been announced since. Through Google Search, I’ve found that auditions for the film were apparently being held in September 2008. As of November 2008, Seibert says the film is “still being written.” Also in the same month reported that the film has a budget of $20 million and “will combine traditional 2D animation with stereoscopic 3D.”

Paramount has also registered the domain name

I’ll continue to provide coverage of future developments as they are announced.