Featured Voices: Omara Portuondo


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.

Anika Noni Rose Talks ‘Princess and the Frog’


Canada.com has an extended interview with Anika Noni Rose who voices Princess Tiana in Disney’s traditionally-animated The Princess and the Frog which opens in theaters Dec. 11th.

Rose says when she saw the first official image of the character whose voice she had been recording, “I couldn’t even breathe. I just started to cry. Even to talk about it now, I’ll be crying. It was the most amazing, awesome – I don’t even know that I have real words for it.”

Here’s another excerpt from the interview:

Rose, 37, grew up watching Disney movies, and as someone who knew from an early age that she wanted to perform, she dreamt of one day participating in a Disney film herself. But as an African-American child, she was also realistic.

“I was just watching the movies and enjoying them. But I do remember wondering to myself whether there would ever be a chocolate-brown Snow White!

“But I didn’t necessarily feel deprived. When you’re a child, you don’t know; you’re living in your world.”

So working for Disney was had been this compelling dream. But, she giggles, “I didn’t dream of being a princess. I could have been a dandelion and I would have been really happy. So this is like when your dreams take off and become bigger than what you had imagined. It’s amazing.”

Mandy Moore on Voicing Rapunzel


Rotten Tomatoes has an interview with pop singer/actor Mandy Moore on her role as the title character for Disney’s next princessy computer-animated feature film Rapunzel Tangled which is slated for a Holiday 2010 theatrical release.

The article includes screenshots from the upcoming film and Moore discusses her character and other things celebrities commonly say about the animated films they’re cast for, such as the difference between voice acting and on-camera work:

“There’s a lot of imagination that goes into doing an animated film, and this really is my first proper, proper one. It’s a lot more draining than you expect. I’m sure you figure, you show up in whatever you’re wearing and you don’t have to be all made up and there’s no waiting around. I think because there’s so much that has to take place in your mind, there’s so much to imagine. And a lot of the time you’re not reading with anyone. It can be taxing in a different way than sitting around waiting all day on a set.”

Chuck star Zachary Levi voices the male prince-type for the film. Tangled is directed by Byron Howard (co-director of Bolt) and Nathan Greno (Bolt writer and story artist) with music by Alan Menken who scored such Disney animated features as Beauty & The Beast, Hercules, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocohantas, and Enchanted.

Update: 2.19.2010 — Wikipedia.org currently has 20 names on its alleged “confirmed cast” list for Tangled, but by comparison the film’s IMDb page has only five cast members listed to date.

Update: 1.26.2010 — Mandy Moore talks Disney’s Tangled with the Associated Press:

Previous news: 9.11.2009 — Mandy Moore to Voice Rapunzel for Disney CGI Feature Film.

[Sources: Toonzone.net, Disnology.com]

Mandy Moore to Voice Rapunzel for Disney CGI Feature Film


Reuters reports that Mandy Moore has been cast as the voice of Rapunzel for Disney’s “Digital 3D-animated musical action-adventure” currently scheduled for a Holiday 2010 release.

Zachary Levi (star of the sitcom Chuck) was also announced as providing the voice of a “dashing bandit who finds himself on the road with the rebellious teen ‘hair apparent.'”

(This corrects previous reports that these two characters would be voiced by stage stars Kristin Chenoweth and Dan Fogler.)

Rapunzel will be directed by Byron Howard (co-director of Bolt) and Nathan Greno (Bolt writer and story artist) with music by Alan Menken who scored such Disney animated features as Beauty & The Beast, Hercules, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocohantas, and Enchanted.

In related news, Walt Disney Home Studios Entertainment has announced (via Video Business) that it is “expanding its high-end Blu-Ray Disc line, the Diamond Collection,” to include several of their animated classics: The Lion King, Bambi, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Beauty and the Beast.

Disney will release two Diamond Collection titles each year, beginning on 10.06.2009 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Fantasia and Beauty and the Beast are scheduled for release in 2010.

Video Business adds that “each title will be packed with fresh bonus features and will be available for a limited time at retail.” One of the features to be included on Snow White will be a ‘Backstage Disney’ featurette, exploring Hyperion Studios where the film was produced in 1937.

[Source: Toon Zone]

Pixar CGI Fairy Tale to Feature First Female Lead


In an August 24th video on Dailymotion.com, John Lasseter says that Pixar’s first computer-animated fairy tale The Bear and The Bow will also be Pixar’s first film to feature a “very strong female lead.”

This film is also worthy of note in that it’s the first Pixar film to be directed by a female, Brenda Chapman, who also is credited with writing the film.

Although the film — currently slated for a 2011 holiday release — is still listed as “in development,” Wikipedia lists the following celebrity voices (although these have not been officially confirmed to date): Reese Witherspoon (Monsters vs Aliens, Walk The Line), comedian Billy Connolly (Muppets Treasure Island, Lemony Snicket ), Emma Thompson (Harry Potter series, Treasure Planet), and Julie Walters (Harry Potter series, Billy Elliot).

Voices.com Profiles ‘Wall*E’ Voice Ben Burtt


Vox Daily has an article discussing film sound design pioneer Ben Burtt on how he developed the vocal effects for Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E:

Ben Burtt related that the most difficult assignment he has ever received as a sound designer was to design voices for characters. His primary challenge was to maintain the soul of a human being while creating a believable, synthesized sound that appropriately matched the characters’ robotic form and features.

A good example of creating a voice for a non-human character is evident in Disney’s film, “Dumbo” (1941), wherein producers used a Sonavox (an artificial larynx) to make a train “speak” with human-like qualities to achieve a desired result. Today, the Vocoder, a digital tool, is used to create a similar yet more sophisticated effect to alter the voice, even modulate pitch.

The Vocoder was used in Wall-E to change the vocal qualities of voice actress Elissa Knight, who performed the voice of Wall-E’s love interest, Eve.

The voice of Wall-E was first performed by Ben Burtt and then manipulated with a digital pen that acted like a joystick, modulating the sound even further.

Continue reading: Ben Burtt and Sound Design for Wall-E [Vox Daily].

VAs on DVD: Disney’s Bolt


The 3.24.2009 DVD/Blu-Ray release of Disney’s computer-animated feature film, Bolt includes bonus material featuring the voice cast:

– “A New Breed of Directors: A Filmmaker’s Journey” is a 4-minute documentary hosted by the film’s directors as they cover the movie from concept to completion, although there’s only brief mention of the voice recording.

– “Act, Speak! The Voices of Bolt” clocks in at just under 10 minutes and features interviews with John Travolta (Bolt), Miley Cyrus (Penny), Susie Essman (Mittens), James Lipton (Director), and Mark Walton (Rhino).

Ultimate Disney’s review of the featurette says, “I don’t like when Pixar DVDs neglect this area, yet I also don’t like when DreamWorks ones overstate it. I’d like to think this is a happy medium. The video of talent is appreciated. But it’s hard not to cringe when John Lasseter calls Miley Cyrus ‘the real deal.'”

In Session with John Travolta and Miley Cyrus: a behind-the-scenes glimpse into recording “I Thought I Lost You,” which UltimateDisney.com says is “barely enough time for Travolta to compare Cyrus to Olivia Newton-John and for Cyrus to explain why the song is special.”

I Thought I Lost You Music Video, featuring Cyrus and Travolta.

Besides the aforementioned lead roles, Bolt‘s voice cast also includes Malcolm McDowell (Dr. Calico), Greg Germann (The Agent), Diedrich Bader (Veteran Cat), Nick Swardson (Blake), J.P. Manoux (Tom), Dan Fogelman (Billy), Kari Wahlgren (Mindy), Chloe Moretz (Young Penny), Randy Savage (Thug), Ronn Moss (Dr. Forrester), Grey DeLisle (Penny’s Mom), Sean Donnellan (Penny’s TV Dad), Lino DiSalvo (Vinnie), Todd Cummings (Joey), Tim Mertens (Bobby), Kellie Hoover (Ester), Brian Stepanek (Martin), Jeff Bennett (Lloyd Spoon), Daran Norris (Louie), John Di Maggio (Saul), and Jenny Lewis (Assistant Director).

In related news, Mark Walton, visual development artist and voice of Rhino, participated in a roundtable discussion on Bolt, which Ultimate Disney and Toon Zone covered respectively.

In Ultimate Disney’s article, Walton is asked about Disney’s films being dubbed into other languages: “I really like to try to watch films in the original language, because I want to hear the original performance as it was directed, and I think there’s a lot of people that feel that way. It’s hard when people want to see the original language version but the only one that plays is the dubbed version, but there’s always the DVD at least. Picking the right voice is really important, and the guys who do the dubbing have to be amazing, to match the lip-synch, and say things that have often been changed in intent (not just the language) to make more sense to the local culture, and still ACT. I have to say, the people that Disney International picks usually do a really good job.

And from Toon Zone’s article:

Q: (To Mark Walton) How did you come up with the voice for Rhino? Was it based on anyone?

WALTON: I’m pretty much just doing my voice, my personality. I tried doing what I thought was a hamster voice when I first auditioned, but the directors (who know me) told me to just be myself as much as possible. I just tried to imagine how I would feel if the character of my favorite book or movie showed up, in the flesh, at my door to take me on an adventure – how would I feel? How would I act? (Ecstatic and slightly crazy.)

Q: (To Mark Walton) Was there chemistry with the other actors? Or did you always work separately on the voice acting?

WALTON: Unfortunately, I never got to work with the other actors. The good thing about recording everyone separately is it gives the directors more control – they can change one character’s lines in a scene without having to re-record everybody, and the story changes a lot before the movie comes out.

Q: (To Mark Walton) Will you be doing a lot more voice acting in the future? Do you think it is a lot of fun?

WALTON: It is a lot of fun – at least for me! Rhino was a really broad, silly, over-the-top character that got to be funny, dramatic, angry, serious, touching, and it was great having my voice attached to a well-animated, cute fuzzy character! I just think it’s a blast to come in in whatever clothes and pretend for the mic, and get paid for it! I haven’t been asked to do anything else yet, but I really hope I get to do more voice parts. There’s a lot of talented people I have to compete with, but I can hope!

Additional source: O-Meon.com