Today we’re covering the third video in the #VONotes series from Chris Edgerly, a series designed to answer your questions about the voice acting industry, and today Chris is talking all about voice acting in movies or feature films. If you missed the first couple of videos in the #VONotes series you can catch up on those here.
#VONOTES Video 3: Voice Acting in Movies AKA Live Action Feature Film Voice Over Work
What’s up, everybody? It’s Chris Edgerly with another #VONote and today I’m going to talk about voice acting in live-action feature films.
Now, voice acting in a live-action feature can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes you’re the voice of a computer or a DJ or someone talking on the phone but you never actually see their character.
As it happens, I did some voice acting for a couple of films playing those exact kinds of characters.
This first clip is from the movie “Passengers” starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence and, to a much lesser degree, Chris Edgerly (as the radio DJ and the computer character of Infomat.) Here’s a look at the DJ scene…
[Chris Edgerly as DJ]: “Good morning one and all, it’s a beautiful morning here on the Starship Avalon! Whatever you do, don’t get homesick, get Homestead! Let’s start things off with one of my favorites back on Earth…”
And, in this next scene, this is me as the character of Infomat, which is basically kind of an AI kiosk which gives…not very helpful information to Chris Pratt’s character as he very frustratingly tries to figure out what is going on aboard this really large spaceship!
[Chris Edgerly as Infomat]: “Hello, welcome to the grand concourse aboard the Avalon, can I help you?”
[Chris Pratt as Jim Preston]: “I need to talk to a person! A real, live person, please!”
[Chris Edgerly as Infomat]: “What sort of person? Personal trainer, travel planner, therapist…”
[Chris Pratt as Jim Preston]: “I don’t know, I don’t know…somebody in charge!”
[Chris Edgerly as Infomat]: “The ship steward handles passenger affairs, it’s on level three of the grand concourse.”
[Chris Pratt as Jim Preston]: “Thank you.”
[Chris Edgerly as Infomat]: “Happy to help!”
[Chris Pratt as Jim Preston after walking into the ship steward room]: “Ah, God…”
[Chris Pratt as Jim Preston runs back to Infomat on the Grand Concourse]
[Chris Edgerly as Infomat]: “Hello!”
[Chris Pratt as Jim Preston]: “Who’s flying the ship?”
[Chris Edgerly as Infomat]: “The flight crew, the captain, the pilot, the chief aviator…”
[Chris Pratt as Jim Preston]: “I want to speak to the captain!”
[Chris Edgerly as Infomat]: “The captain rarely handles passenger queries…”
[Chris Pratt as Jim Preston]: “It’s an emergency! Please…”
[Chris Edgerly as Infomat]: “The captain is usually found on the bridge in the Command Ring.”
In the first scene, the radio DJ isn’t interacting with anybody, he’s just mainly giving announcements. In the second scene, it looks like the Infomat and Chris Pratt’s character have a back and forth going…but in real life, I was nowhere near the set when they were shooting this because I hadn’t even been cast yet! This footage was already shot and when I was finally cast and brought into the studio and I basically acted against Chris Pratt’s performance on screen. Which means that the heavy lifting was done by movie star Chris and not voice actor Chris.
I got to play off a performance that was already there. Chances are that he was reading with somebody that was giving him the lines off-screen.
The next clip is from the movie “J. Edgar” where Leonardo DiCaprio, the J. Edgar Hoover character is answering the phone and getting some very distressing news from one Agent Shackley, played by…once again, your friendly neighborhood Chris Edgerly! Here’s a look!
[Naomi Watts as Helen Gandy]: “It’s urgent, I have Agent Shanklin on the line from Dallas.”
[Chris as Agent Shanklin]: “My apologies, Mr. Hoover I told Miss. Gandy to put me right through…”
[Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover]: “What is it, Agent Shanklin?”
[Chris as Agent Shanklin]: “Sir…the president has been shot…”
[Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover]: “Who else knows about this?”
[Chris as Agent Shanklin]: “No one, sir, I thought you should know before the press report…”
[Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover]: “Thank you, Agent Shanklin…”
[Chris as Agent Shanklin]: “Yes, sir.”
Again, in the scene I was nowhere near the set, I recorded my lines on the set at The Warner Brothers, again, acting off the screen. DiCaprio had already given his performance and chances are, somebody off camera was feeding him his lines.
These are two examples of the different kinds of voice acting performances that you’ll find in feature films, and again, they almost never involve someone being right there on the set with the main character.
Next time you’re watching a feature film, check out all the times you just hear a person and never see them. Chances are, somebody just like me in a nice air-conditioned booth, months after that scene was actually shot!
If you’ve got any questions, put them in the comments section below and hit that subscription button so you can see more #VONotes as I make them!