Thursday, June 17, 2010

Can a Bad Actor Be a Great Voice Actor?

If you're a fellow tweep in the voiceover community, you may have noticed a Twitter conversation I started last week. I not-so-innocently asked, "If a bad actor is a great voice actor, can you forgive them for stealing all the voiceover jobs?"

I mischievously posed this to the twitterverse anticipating responses to two aspects of the question:

1) Many actors from the big screen are making a move to national
voiceover work ... Ya know, to supplement their incomes.

And...

2) How can a terrible on-screen actor be a great voice actor?!

It's true that many famous actors have landed major national voice-over commercial accounts. Morgan Freeman can be heard on American Express commercials, Mike Rowe is the voice of Ford, and Julia Roberts talks up AOL on national television.

While it's not a new trend for actors to take on lucrative gigs as a spokesperson for a product or service, more and more celebrities these days are rolling into the studio to record voice work without using their Hollywood faces to help sell the products. And they are often times still making the seven figure salary!

Are celebrities using their thespian skills to sell the product, or are the commercial's producers capitalizing on the actors' celebrity statuses and distinct voices to help market their products?

The truth is
both.

After tweeting the question above, I got the reaction I was looking for. "How can a bad actor be a
great voice actor?!" The point is, one cannot be a great, or even just good, voice actor if they can't act!

It can be argued that a voice-over artist has it harder than a stage actor because they have to rely 100% on verbal communication to relate a host of emotions that would normally be conveyed through facial expressions, body language or gestures.

For new voiceover artists, acting out with body gestures and expressions feels alien. For tips on stepping out of yourself and into a character, check out this voiceover tip.

Although it doesn't seem fair that celebrities are paid what they are for a 30- or 60-second spot, the truth is they wouldn't have the gig if they couldn't pull it off. Or, at least, I'd like to think that!

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