Celebrity Voice vs. Voice Actor

by | Mar 17, 2011 | Animation, VO Jobs | 4 comments

On at least two ocassions, I’ve used this blog to bash the practices of hiring big-name celebrities in the roles that voice-actors traditionally filled.  Yeah, there was some jealousy involved.  (notice how I conveniently omit the blog links) 🙂

For a couple of reasons, that view is shortsighted.  First, it’s not going away, and secondly, THOSE GUYS are making more work for US GUYS.

I couldn’t explain it any better than the YouTube video below…featuring, I might add, Kevin Delaney and Pat Fraley and others who speak very well (heh) for the reality of having screen celebs play key voices in animated films.  Just watch, you’ll see what I mean.


(to watch on YouTube, click HERE)



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  1. Voice123

    Fact is…celebrities bring in money. They just do. It’s why former sit com stars move to NYC and sell out Broadway shows, and why celebs are used to sell movies.

    Voice overs has always been a bit of a ‘blue collar’ business, and when you take that Hollywood stud and make him the voice of a lion, people will come see that stud to hear his voice…and it happens to be a lion too. What I see urk some folks is that they work their entire lives to achieve in voice overs alone, and someone famous gets a role because of his movie/film/tv credits. Still, its all entertainment.

    BUT…..Leave us never forget one important fact…The voice over industry thrived for years when you had no idea who was doing the voices. There was the illusion that the animated character was real. When you know its a star doing the voice…that illusion is broken. An audience can only take so much narcissism before they stop and say, ‘Just entertain me, and be great at it.’

    My favorite voice actor is Mark Hammil. I saw him in Star Wars when I was 4. He has been in VO’s for 3 decades now, and I am still never sure what work he is doing, or where, but he is working. I did not know he was in voice overs until my 20’s, years later, but his ‘art work’ served as inspiration for me; not his celeb status.

    My point .. being famous has an expiration date on work. Being a talented voice artist does not. We should feel blessed when we simply ‘work’ and live well. Fame doesn’t pay, and often leads to infamy but ‘infamy’ can cause you to lose work.

    Just some thoughts for the hard working voice talent that no one knows about…For example, Spanish Buzz Lightyear (Javier Fernandez Pena). It was a small role, and it left an impact, but many still think of Tim Allen, first…


  2. Dane Reid Voice Talent

    If the celebrity is better than the talent then so be it. But casting simply for name recognition to me is boderline ridiculous. There are a few instances that they really should’ve hired a voice talent. I am not fond of Morgan Freeman as the voice for CBS news for instance. But I love Jeff Bridges as the voice of Hyundia. I say audition everyone and listen to see who best fits and hire them based on their merits. And may the best VOICE ACTOR win!!!

  3. Martin

    There are some on-camera actors who aren’t good voice actors. However, there are quite a few who are. And if you were one of those, you’d use your celebrity as leverage just like they’re doing. You can’t begrudge these people for doing this, nor can you use this as an excuse as to why you’re not booking enough work at any given moment. There will always be competition. What these celebrities do is simply raise the level of competition. Stay in the game and don’t get discouraged by this. This doesn’t change the fact that you’re still unique regardless of the playing field seeming to be slanted.

  4. Peter Katt

    I’m getting kind of tired of this old gripe. Coaches repeatedly stress that voiceover is voice *acting* — so it makes sense to hire the best actor the project can afford. People tend to forget that the classic cartoon voices of the past started out as radio *actors* and pretty much did cartoons on the side. Sure, some projects just exploit the big names for marquee value, but they never would have hired anyone else anyway — maybe the project was pitched as “Tobey Maguire as a dog” or whatever. Others do it right — “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” comes to mind, with George Clooney and Meryl Streep. They cast the actors to fit the characters.


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