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View Poll Results: Do you think the trend toward celebrity voice acting has been positive overall?

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    2 28.57%
  • No

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  • Mixed -- will explain below

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  1. #1
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Default The Celebrity Voice Actor Trend: Good or Bad?

    There's quite a slew of animation being released nowadays, whether movies or TV, in order to fill up available room for programming.

    But especially with movies, we've seen a shift from animated releases up through the 80's, to movies in the 90's where celebrities began to be selected as cast leads in animated features, as opposed to trained voice actors whose entire career has been spent voicing characters rather than playing them in live-action pictures. (Writer Scott Meslow recently in Atlantic Mag stated the turning point occurred with Robin Williams' performance in Disney's Aladdin.)

    Do you think overall this is a positive trend or a negative one? Why or why not? Does live-action acting carry over to voice acting or not? Who would you consider to be versatile enough to function effectively in live-action as well as animated features?


    http://www.awn.com/mag/issue4.01/4.0...cquaceleb.php3
    http://38.118.71.170/entertainment/a...acting/247481/
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  2. #2
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    The topic came to mind when I read the Atlantic article a few weeks ago, and then today when I watched the premiere episode of Kung-Fu Panda: Adventures of Awesomeness.

    When I Googled the show (because I could tell the monkey was not Jackie Chan), I discovered only two members of the original cast (James Hong and Lucy Liu) were voicing their characters on the TV show, the rest were professional voice actors.

    I didn't think Mantis or Monkey were great matches. Crane was close, Tigress was closer, and both Po and Shifu seemed to be dead-on. I really thought Jack Black was voicing the lead until I read the credits list.

    EDIT: Here's another -- Penguins of Madagascar. Only one cast member is both in the Madagascar movies and the TV show, yet the TV show cast sounds remarkably like the movie cast.

    http://animatedtv.about.com/od/shows...gascarcast.htm
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  3. #3
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    I think it's cool. I haven't watched too many of these animated movies, but I like it in video games.

    For instance, Skyrim has Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow (both playing old sage type of characters... if you don't know who they are, they're perfect for it). Some of these actors still carry a lot of personality in their voice.

    In the Dragon Age games, there's Kate Mulgrew playing Flemeth, the "witch of the wilds". She hardly has any lines, but she makes the games so much better. And from an interview I read, she enjoyed it more than the usual acting job. I don't think you have to differentiate between "voice actors" or whatnot. An actor is an actor. In her words, she thought just sitting in a dark studio, doing a voice, was the purest form of acting. That it reminded her of why she was an actor to begin with.. she talked about sitting in dark places as a kid, dramatizing stories for people.. she thought all real actors were imaginative like this.

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    With Dragon Age, I was more impressed with Mulgrew's performance in the second game, it seemed to be very fluid and instinctual. This might not have been her fault in the first game -- she could have had bad direction, plus I think there were many more vocal clips being spliced together, and the editing simply might have been poor to make all of those lines work together in whatever way the player dictated (by her choices) they would be played. Still, it came off as a bit disjointed.

    In comparison, relative unknowns like Steve Valentine (Alistair) and Corrine Kempa (Leliana), and especially Claudia Black (Morrigan) were more polished and smooth and maintained an emotional arc to their performance. So maybe that's what I'm talking about -- I think the celebrity performance, while not bad, was one of the lesser performances in the game.

    I'm glad it made her think, though, and stripped her down to the bare essence of what it means to 'act'.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #5
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  6. #6
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    With Dragon Age, I was more impressed with Mulgrew's performance in the second game, it seemed to be very fluid and instinctual. This might not have been her fault in the first game -- she could have had bad direction, plus I think there were many more vocal clips being spliced together, and the editing simply might have been poor to make all of those lines work together in whatever way the player dictated (by her choices) they would be played. Still, it came off as a bit disjointed.

    In comparison, relative unknowns like Steve Valentine (Alistair) and Corrine Kempa (Leliana), and especially Claudia Black (Morrigan) were more polished and smooth and maintained an emotional arc to their performance. So maybe that's what I'm talking about -- I think the celebrity performance, while not bad, was one of the lesser performances in the game.

    I'm glad it made her think, though, and stripped her down to the bare essence of what it means to 'act'.

    You make a good point.. especially Corrine Kempa. She might as well take over the game, as far as I'm concerned. Heh (in fact, I think Leliana started off as just another companion, not even created by the main writer. They even marketed the game with a bent towards Morrigan. Leliana was even able to be killed, while Morrigan wasn't. Yet, she got the first expansion content and was given more of a part in the sequel..totally negating any players who killed her. I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes a main character, seeing how the plot is going now. It's a case of popularity after the fact... a lot because of the actress).

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    It pains me to say that I agree with Elfboy.

  8. #8
    Uniqueorn William K's Avatar
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    Interesting topic. I sort of agree with the article on where things started to change. When Disney revived their animated movie business with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, I had no idea who voiced Ariel and Belle, but I loved them all the same. Robin Williams' Oscar winning role as the Genie in Aladdin opened the doors, but I believe it was when Pixar came into the business that the celebrities started playing all the major roles. Lion King came a year before Toy Story but Matthew Broderick isn't Tom Hanks

    Is it a good or a bad thing? As Elfboy says, as long as the celebrity is good at it, then it's good. In Toy Story, it's Woody I'm watching on screen not another of Hanks' characters like Forrest Gump. That's what good actors do.

    Not sure how big an issue it is, but my main question would be does this mean less work for the professional voice actors? I feel that there is a need for both screen actors and voice actors, just like radio hosts vs TV hosts. Nowadays, would people go and watch an animated movie voiced by unknown actors?
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by William K View Post
    Not sure how big an issue it is, but my main question would be does this mean less work for the professional voice actors? I feel that there is a need for both screen actors and voice actors, just like radio hosts vs TV hosts. Nowadays, would people go and watch an animated movie voiced by unknown actors?
    I think that's one of the major issues -- that marketing has changed in terms of how animated pictures are billed. In the past, you didn't HAVE to have big name stars to market an animated picture, and it was almost a novelty when they showed up (like in Gay Puree or The Incredible Mr. Limpet). It was a big deal for Bob Newhart and Zsa Zsa to appear in The Rescuers... a novelty.

    But nowadays, do animated pictures released in the mainstream that do not have celebrity talent have a chance of making money as much as a celebrity-driven release regardless of quality would? I mean, I still believe that a GOOD picture regardless of stars will eventually by word of mouth become a success, but it could take a long while, whereas pictures of average quality still make sufficient return if they have top-name billing. I will also acknowledge that there is alot of competition now with animated features; for a long time, only large studios could afford to make them, and there were so few released in a year that they were ensured to be family box-office successes, but it's very different nowadays.

    (btw, Ariel was Jodi Benson, and Belle was Page O'Hara... but aside from those movies, I have no idea what their background is/was at the time the movies were released. I mean, the biggest name in B&tB in a LEAD role was Robby Benson, and he was a B-rate actor... that movie was probably one of his best performances ever. The 'celebrities' in B&tB were playing the supporting cast, and they were still all kind of supporting character actors, except for maybe Angela Lansbury; and the rest of the supporting cast/leads were broadway actors.)

    I think another thing with the celebrity actors is that the movie character becomes written as a vehicle for the celebrity personality -- instead of the celebrity becoming the character, the character becomes the celebrity. (Mushu in Mulan, the Genie in Aladdin, Puss in Boots in Shrek, etc.) So we have celebrity and image driven narrative. I won't say this isn't effective or enjoyable; I loved Genie and Mushu and similar characters. It just does make a difference in how stories and characters are generated and what is acting versus the Michael J. Fox syndrome, where the character is just the actor himself.

    (De Niro is kind of the opposite type of actor. I have trouble even knowing for sure what his true personality is, because all of his characters are unique and he becomes them.)
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  10. #10

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    This trend has been an annoyance to me ever since it started. It's not about the relative skills of a famous actor versus a trained voice actor. My problem with it is that a famous actor brings with them a preconceived impression that impacts the audience's experience of the animated character. In other words, it's "Tom Hanks as Woody" instead of just "Woody", and that makes the true character much harder to convey to the audience. I think this does a disservice to animated movies, but it doesn't bother me when an actor brings this same preconceived impression to their live-action roles. I'm not quite sure why that is, although maybe it's the added element of their physical bodies.

    I think Robin Williams as the genie in Aladdin is an exception, as his talents uniquely suit the character. Unfortunately, the success of that movie inspired a lot more celebrity voice roles that weren't creative fits so much as names to put on the marquee.
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