I love the idea of "anonymous fame". The type of person that you wouldn't know if they were behind you in line at the coffee shop or walked past you in the supermarket, but you would recognize based solely on their voice. Many of the participants in this documentary talk about being a "hidden celebrity" due to their job, and it's fascinating.

John DiMaggio has over 250 credits ranging from TV shows to movies to video games. His most famous role, arguably, is Bender from Futurama. DiMaggio wanted to show what is it like for himself and his colleagues in the behind-the-scenes world of voice acting. He interviews dozens and dozens of voice-actors from the early years of animation right up to people working now. The topics range from the obvious "how did you get started?" questions to "how to make a career out of this" to just asking for personal stories, funny anecdotes and crazy moments.

One of my favorite aspects showed the skills of people who do both "legacy voices".  A "legacy voice" is a character like Fred Flinstone or Winnie the Pooh, someone who has been around for decades but no longer uses the original actor. The new person is faced with the task to replicate the familiar voice, but still bring a bit of him-or-herself to the reading. Everyone can say "yabba dabba doo", but not everyone can actually embody a character. Interviews with casting directors and voice teachers hammered home that point; lots of people can stutter like Porky Pig or lisp like Daffy Duck, but most of those people can't go beyond "T-T-T-T-That's All Folks!" or "You're Dethpicable".

I also loved the people who addressed the critics who say voice-acting is a lesser form of acting. There did seem to be a few who held a grudge against "real" actors, but for the most part they respected their on-screen counterparts and just wanted to get respect themselves. Most of the voicers felt slighted when people implied that what they do is "easy" or "not real acting", while they argue that what they do might actually be harder than a typical Hollywood actor. George Clooney gets hired because he's George Clooney, he fits the look the director wants. A voice actor has to be able to do lots of different voices with different emotions and it doesn't matter at all what they look like.

It sounds pretentious, but I make my career with my voice. I don't "do" a voice for radio work, it's just my own natural voice. I think it would be fantastic, though, to be able to create new characters, all from the comfort of a nice recording studio.



On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "I Know That Voice" gets a 9 out of 10.


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