Thursday, December 03, 2009

Always the Movie Star

DreamWorks signs another Big Name:

Leonardo DiCaprio is getting animated for the first time in his career. He'll make his toon debut in DreamWorks Animation's "The Guardians," voicing a twist on the Jack Frost character ...

DWA signs more marquee names as voice talent, I think, than any other studio. It would be easy to get on a high horse about it, and go off how lower-recognition vocal actors give better, more energetic performances, (I've always thought that Hans Conreid as Captain Hook is the touchstone in this regard.) But if I'm honest, I need to admit that every studio has hired big stars to do animated features.

Pixar has used Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, along with film icon Paul Newman.

Blue Sky Studios has used Robin Williams. (But then, who hasn't used Robin Williams? He's been in the character voice business since Fern Gully... and his first big screen role was portraying cartoon icon Popeye.)

Even the venerated Uncle Walt, who mostly employed radio actors back in the day, hired Bing Crosby for Ichabod Crane in the 1940s, and Crosby was at that time a multi-media giant.

So not to pick on DreamWorks Animation, since every studio goes this route at some point or other, but DWA travels the road more.


mattanimation said...

I think more people (well people who love animation) would appreciate more "Big Name" actors in animation if they were ones that sounded good. It's not just because they are famous actors, it's just there are so many other good actors out there, why settle for less, and pay them more? ok, i'm done. I'm sure everyone already thinks that.

Anonymous said...

yawn. for how much, a billion? i might go if Jeffrey gave him the first 3D animated full frontal nudity scene ever.

i hope all their hedge funds implode.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, DiCaprio is demanding his character be performance capture. This should get interesting.

Anonymous said...

It's the quality of the voice and the performance that counts. If it happens to be a big star, that's fine. But folks don't go to an animated film because DiCaprio or Brad Pitt did a voice.

Anonymous said...

IN DW's defense they are looking for the best voice whether you like their final choices or not. That's why they replaced Russel Crowe with Brad Pitt on Sinbad and Jim Carey was replaced by Bruce Willis on Over the Hedge.

One of the reasons to go after A list actors (in theory) is to gain stronger acting and not just cartoon voices. It doesn't always work, but it often can...even Pixar is guilty of this...though, as Steve said, DW is does it more often. But that seems to be the way JK thinks and has always worked - even on the first Toy Story. It wasn't just Hanks and Allen that were name actors, but almost the entire supporting cast asd well - Rickles, Shawn, Varney, Ratzenberger, and Potts. Maybe not all A listers, but all definitely could have been replaced with unknowns.

Anonymous said...

"Apparently, DiCaprio is demanding his character be performance capture"



On his live-action films does he demand that the director and the dp use a particular brand of camera and lights for shooting the scenes that he appears in ?

Anonymous said...

Cartoon Brew has a pic of the Jack Frost character DiCaprio will be voicing...and it's kickass. I like the concept of "The Guardians of Childhood" too. I'm keeping an eye on this movie; wish we could see the rest of the character designs.

Anonymous said...

folks don't go to an animated film because DiCaprio or Brad Pitt did a voice.

"Sinbad", anyone?

Anonymous said...

Another BIG reason for an A-list voice is that it gets an animated film MAJOR publicity-on Leno's and Letterman's couches and at Cannes, premieres, ET Tonight, blogs etc.
An Angelina Jolie or Leo get attention for a film that otherwise might never get noticed by a non-kid or parent audience-and they can also give good performances too of course. And if they don't, guess what? They get replaced.

Disney tried to copy this approach with their tentpole and pole-swinging teen sensation Miley Cyrus in "Bolt". In that case it flopped, though it wasn't the film's fault. For starters she looped the lines(talk about cynical!), and also wasn't voicing a major character. In the event when Bolt opened "Miley" did barely any real publicity for it.

It's extremely smart on JK's part but he knows it only really works/matters IF the finished film brings the entertainment, which is the job of us, the union members/artists.

Anonymous said...

What is "looping the lines"?

Anonymous said...

What is "looping the lines"

It's essentially doing dubbing.

The character in Bolt was already animated to another voice track that had been recorded(a very charming little girl-much more appealing then Cyrus imo).
Miley was a late change in the cast-there might have been a couple of lines she actually read that were animated after she did them(the usual way) but most were post dubbed by her. Anyone on Bolt-correct me if I'm wrong.

When an actor watches the film and dubs the voice in-whether it's animated or as is more common live action it's called "looping".

I think the term is because the scenes/film used to be literally cut and spliced in a loop that ran repeatedly through the projector as the actor stared at it, trying to match the mouth perfectly/get the right performance. That means doing the lines numerous times as the film "loop" runs through the projector.

Anonymous said...

Anyone on Bolt-correct me if I'm wrong.

We were about 20% into animation when Chloe Moretz's cute voice got replaced with Miley's raspy ugly voice, but not so far that we couldnt reanimate everything, which we did. To my knowledge, every Penny shot was animated (or reanimated) with Miley's voice.

I still think she did ADR's though, but thats a common practice in most animated films. Very annoying to animate with a particular read/inflection, only to have the actor/director change it later.

Dominic said...

What's annoying is that the voice actors, famous or otherwise, get residuals and the animators don't - who's doing most of the onscreen acting after all?

r said...

the voice actors!! duh!


r said...

Who gives a flying f#$@7 about big movie actors doing the voices!?!!. I certainly don't think it adds anything to the movie's appeal. I've never bought a single movie ticket on the basis of who voices what.

It's also quite annoying to be watching a movie and trying to figure out who that voice is, because it sounds familiar. Totally takes me out of the story.

Leo is an amazing actor, sure. He is quite consistently good lately, way better than he was in his Titanic days. Maybe he would do a great voice, who knows, but I still wouldnt go see a film because Leo voiced a certain character...


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