Use the Force... of Voice Over, Luke!
With every Mandalorian, Jedi and Sith’s favourite day (or week) coming very soon. We at Voice Talent Online want to highlight the most fascinating, out-of-this-galaxy voice over news surrounding Star Wars. Especially with the new release of Star Wars: Jedi Survivor, there’s been a lot going on in a galaxy far, far away.
James Earl Jones - Respeecher and Artificial Intelligence
Admit it, Darth Vader’s voice gives EVERYONE the chills. James Earl Jones is known for his deep, authoritative voice as Darth Vader from Episodes 4, 5 and 6 of Star Wars. However, Jones is now 92 years of age and his voice is not quite the same as it was for Darth Vader years ago.
With the 2022 release of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+, Jones stepped back as the voice of Darth Vader. Lucasfilms looked towards an artificial intelligence in Kyiv, Ukraine called Respeecher. While Respeecher works to help medically with laryngectomy patients, the company was able to ‘clone’ Jones’s voice. They then layered it over another actor’s lines to recreate the Darth Vader we know and fear.
This process has created a bit of controversy and curiosity for the world of artificial intelligence and voice talent. Could a more affordable version of this cinematic AI eventually replace voice overs? Is it possible to revive characters and voices that are no longer with us with AI? While there is no definitive answer and a variety of opinions, it is interesting that Star Wars helped open the gate to discussions of voice over and artificial intelligence.
Dee Bradley Baker- Cloning His Voice
In a different type of cloning, Voice Talent Online wanted to recognize the incredible voice talent that is Dee Bradley Baker. That’s right, he voices pretty much every single Clone trooper. Most recently, Baker voices all five Clone Troopers in The Bad Batch. What’s more impressive is that Baker would voice the entire squad in one go! According to executive producer and head writer Jennifer Corbett, Baker surprised everyone with his voice over work. “When we first started, I thought we would go one character at a time. And just watching him act out a scene with himself, with all of these clones – but there’s no pause! He just goes into it,” she stated in a Yahoo! Life article.
Baker demonstrates amazing voice talent and he is not just known for The Bad Batch; he also voices animals too! In Gravity Falls, he voices Waddles the Pig, he squeaks as Hammond, a hamster with a machine in Overwatch, and he provides the growls and screeches for a variety of fan-favourite fictional animals in Avatar: the Last Airbender. Basically, Dee Bradley Baker is truly a force not to be messed with in the voice over world!
The Power of Voice Over- Matt Lanter's Anakin Skywalker
Actor Matt Lanter gives a more detailed and tragic background of the fallen Jedi Anakin Skywalker, who turned into Star Wars’ most feared villain. Matt Lanter’s performance as the voice of Anakin Skywalker before he became Darth Vader was so remarkable that Skywalker became a huge fan favourite.
While storytelling plays a role as well, Lanter gives such personality and character to someone we already know through his emotional and dedicated performances. So much so that, “With much respect to Hayden Christensen, many fans have viewed Matt Lanter’s Anakin Skywalker from The Clone Wars as the definitive version of the character,” Bradley Prom from ScreenRant says. It goes to show the power of voice acting, how one performance can completely change the audience’s mind on a character and how voice over can sometimes be better than acting.
Thrawn in Ahsoka and Star Wars: Rebels
Grand Admiral Thrawn may have been one of the most chilling villains in Star Wars history, nearing Darth Vader himself. Played by Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen, the sinister Empire’s Grand Admiral with blue skin and piercing red eyes was a force to be reckoned with for the Rebel Fleet.
With the eagerly anticipated live-action Disney+ series Ahsoka, it was released that there are a lot more familiar faces from Star Wars: Rebels in the new Ahsoka show, like Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren and Grand Admiral Thrawn.
While the live-action characters are getting new faces and voices, only Grand Admiral Thrawn will be played by his original voice actor, Lars Mikkelsen. As huge fans at VTO, we think it is interesting that the actual voice actor will also play the live action version of his character, especially considering what an amazing job he had done before.
It may have the potential to completely make the series more intense and give justice to Ahsoka’s live-action debut. It is possible that had they gone with a different actor, the series may not have as many high stakes with another actor. Keeping the authenticity of one of the most important characters of the series allows the audience will continue to feel the chill and intensity that Lars Mikkelsen brings to Thrawn. It goes to show that voice talent can be more important than the acting itself.
Did you know all of these facts? Which one was your favourite? Let us know and don’t forget, May the 4th be with you!