There once was a time when voice acting was something that A-list Hollywood actors would rarely ever waste their talent on. Whenever you needed someone to provide a voice for an animated movie, you would go to someone who specialized in such things, because let’s face it, they were cheaper and probably much more versatile too. But things have been slowly changing ever since the ’90s, with Robin Williams having a prominent role in Aladdin, and then blockbuster CG films like Toy Story and Antz featuring star-studded casts (the latter of which even modeled its characters to subtly resemble its stars). Nowadays it’s pretty much a given that any feature-length animated CG movie will secure big name talent in order to better their chances for box office success. But is this actually a good thing?
One of the concerns here is that the A-list actors are taking away jobs from the real voice actors — people who don’t get paid nearly as much and who, in some cases, are already struggling to make a living. But there’s also a question of whether or not the big name actors are actually providing a better performance. In a lot of cases I think the answer is no. Voice acting is an art form with its own subtle differences, and just because you can act on screen doesn’t necessarily mean you can give a decent vocal performance. For proof of this, just look at the despicable studio practice of having voice actors read for a role, only to give the recording to a Hollywood actor to use as a guide for their own performance. Pixar seems to be one of the few animation studios that still tries to cast a part based on the actual voice work rather than star power. What do you think? Do A-list actors help or hurt animated movies? Are you more likely to see an animated movie if one of your favourite stars provides a voice for it? Is voice acting itself in danger of becoming a lost art form? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.