Every person has their own, unique voice. But there is only an estimated handful of dubbing actors in every country that practices dubbing, resulting in a potpourri of the same voices over and over again. Changing the TV channel in a dubbing country can feel like not having changed the channel at all – Tom Hanks, Kevin Kline, Bill Murray, Eric Idle, James Belushi and Jeff Goldblum – all of them one and the same person? Apparently, on German TV…
An actor’s voice is just as important an instrument as his gestures and facial expressions, if not even the most important one. A voice often acts as a transmitter for emotion, if only for tiny nuances. Actors on set act off one another in dialog and use their opposite’s attitude in their performance – this is what creates authentic scenes.
Actors often put a lot of effort into developing their voice for a specific movie, whether it’s just a different accent or a whole new voice pitch. The late Australian actor Heath Ledger spent a whole month on finding the right voice for his psychopathic Joker in The Dark Knight (who obviously also speaks with an American accent, as opposed to Ledger’s Australian accent). The result sends serious shivers down your spine.
Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight
Once you know the true voice of an actor, you don’t want to miss it again. Many actors are a joy to watch just because of their voices – for example the deep voice of Clive Owen or Marlon Brando, the slightly raised pitch of John Malkovich, or the raspy voices of Lili Taylor or Jack Nicholson.