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Voice Overs Of The World: I Know That Voice!

Posted 3:18 pm by team

While I don’t usually spend too much time focusing on celebrity voice overs here on Voice Overs of the World, once in a while I stumble across a few that are noteworthy enough to bring up. In this case, I suspect there are an awful lot of people seeing these ads and going, “Oh, who is that? I KNOW that voice!” So I thought I’d shed a little light on the situation!

First up, we have an ad for Bird’s Eye fish fingers from over in the UK. Who better to portray a slightly creepy polar bear stalking you from your own freezer than Willem Dafoe? You have to admit, he does do a great job of bringing this character to life; he really captures that whole “I’m talking to you nicely, but really there’s an undercurrent of menace” approach very well. I love when he says, “Can you help me with something…? What’s this?” with that voice that very clearly knows exactly what this is.

An interesting side note: did you notice how Dafoe pronounces “fish filet” as “fish fill-it”? That’s a good example of an actor matching the regional pronunciation of the location he’s in. Obviously, Dafoe isn’t trying to adopt a British accent, but seeing as how that’s how they pronounce the word ‘filet’ over there, you have to match that pronunciation so as to avoid confusion among British audiences. Just a little glimpse into how international voice overs work.

Next up, we have a commercial for Hotels.com. There is actually an entire series of commercials using this claymation style and this character who’s simply called “Smart.” Well, Smart is actually portrayed by Ed Helms, best known for his roles on The Daily Show and The Office. Helms does a terrific job of bringing that sort of snarky/know-it-all tone to the piece, without actually sounding rude or condescending. That’s actually a hard balance to find, but Helms does a very nice job with it.

What’s great, too, is that in this series of commercials Helms shares voice time with everyone from a girlfriend to a co-worker to a monkey, meaning there are other, non-famous voice talents out there who get the chance to star in a national commercial alongside a celebrity voice. There’s plenty of room for everyone, folks, celebrities and non-celebrities alike!

This last commercial sort of reverses the approach of the last two. Sure, you can see right now before even playing the video that that’s Sir Ian McKellen of Lord of the Rings and X-Men fame on screen. But when you actually watch the video, we hear something else entirely; in fact, we hear someONE else entirely! It’s a woman, describing her dreary day for this public service announcement on aging that’s also from the UK. (About halfway through, McKellen’s voice once again takes over, and while it’s not a voice over per se, you can’t help but marvel at what a wonderful voice he has.)

But the best part about this ad for me is imagining the recording session for the voice over. I can’t help but picture a nice little British lady showing up to do her session, and then hearing something along the lines of this from the producer: “Okay, so here you’re basically just playing a typical senior citizen, maybe you’re a bit down in the dumps, a bit lonely. So let’s keep it kind of a mix between matter-of-fact and a little depressed; you know, not too dark. Oh yeah, and your voice will be coming from Sir Ian McKellen.”

Where else but in the world of voice overs…?

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