Six Famous Voice Actors and Their Roles
In this blog, we're going to celebrate six wonderful voice actors and their accomplished roles.
Like most voice actors, I am a constant consumer of both animation and video game content. I spend much of my spare time listening to other voices actors, and marveling at the skill, the character creation, and the sheer range and versatility that some of the amazing performers out there have.
So today, we’re going to talk about the voice actors behind some of the recent roles I have been in awe of, as well as some classic characters, in video games and animation; if you haven’t had a chance to check out their work, then what are you waiting for?
Let's start with the gents:
Anthony Howell - Elias in Diablo 4
Like many of the actors in this blog, Anthony is not just a voice actor, but also an accomplished stage and screen actor, however, he recently has done some incredible work in games, like World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, Elden Ring, and most recently the newly released Diablo 4.
Now I’ve been playing the Diablo games since the very beginning, and I am a huge fan of the action role-playing crawler-style games. But what I’ve noticed more about Diablo 4, is the bigger emphasis on the narrative structure and the story behind the game, not to mention the improved gameplay and the amazing graphics for this style of game.
Anthony voices the character Elias, who is the right hand of Lilith, the game's main protagonist. And when I tell you his voice is something to behold, I am not exaggerating, perfectly displayed in the promo cinematic that opens the Diablo 4 game, Howell performs with a level of gravitas that many voice actors covet. His voice is rich, menacing, full of nuance and detail. Check it out below.
H Jon Benjamin - Bob’s Burgers
As a child, my parents thought that The Simpsons was far too adult, so I wasn’t allowed to watch it. Needless to say, when I lurched into my adolescence, long before binge-watching was a thing, I watched every episode of The Simpsons I could get my hands on. And ever since then, I have been a fan of the Adult Animated genre. Although I don’t think any of them have done it quite as cleverly as Matt Groening and his team of creators, there are many great cartoons with a varying scale of adult humor, Bob's Burgers being on the more tame side. Although it's been around for a while, even spawning a feature film, I have recently been howling at the irreverent goofball antics of Loren Bouchard's creation. And for his role in leading the animated comedy, we have to celebrate H Jon Benjamin.
Many of you will know Benjamin for his huge oeuvre of work, both initially as a comedian and then for animated projects and games, notably voicing Sterling Archer in the Archer animated series, another favorite of mine, and of course his live-action work. All the voice actors in Bob’s Burgers are phenomenal, and what I love is that they all broach the line between a normal human voice, and something outlandish and comedic, while managing
to keep all the voice acting extremely grounded. Benjamin has the perfect tone to create that generic, everyman American male character, but there is nothing generic about his insanely comedic and brilliant voice acting. Check out the trailer for the Bobs Burgers movie below.
Christopher Judge - Kratos in God of War
Like the Diablo series, I can remember playing the original God of War game as a teenager, however, I haven’t returned to the series until the most recent outing, God of War: Ragnarok. Originally the part of Kratos was voiced by Terrence C Carson, who did an incredible job. But when it came to incorporating motion capture for the role, they required someone with more height. So, in steps Christopher Judge.
Sometimes in life, we are given a gift, something that aligns perfectly in terms of skill and what’s desired in the wider world, and having a voice like Judge is most certainly a gift that was going to be shared. You’ll also recognize him from work like the animated series Final Space, the most recent Marvel's Avengers video game, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, as well as countless screen and television roles. Although it sounds effortless, I’m sure that such an illustrious career has allowed Judge to hone his skills, and master his voice-acting abilities. His deep and gravelly tones never fall flat, or sound forced, they are naturally powerful, filled with the emotion behind his characters. And having played the game, his performance throughout Ragnarok is stellar. Check out the clip below.
Now, let's move on to the incredible ladies...
Katey Sagal - Turanga Leela in Futurama
I don't think I could have written this blog without including the character of Leela, for some reason she is etched into my animation-loving mind. In the early days of Futurama, I was convinced that nothing could even come close to the genius of the Simpsons, however, Futurama has carved its very own thread, not only in its style of humor but in its bold approach to voicing the characters. Now we could talk about John Dimaggio’s stellar work, or even Billy West’s, but to me, the real star of Futurama is Katey Sagal. Both an accomplished actor and singer, Sagal was perfectly cast as the emotional heart of the show and provides a constant juxtaposition to both Fry and Bender’s characters. And many fans have reveled in the moments when Sagal's straight-laced and rule-obeying character branches out or becomes a rebel.
Some voice actors manipulate their voices to the point of being unrecognizable themselves, and some merely accentuate certain qualities, but what I love about Sagal’s voice and interpretation of the character, is that she is firmly rooted in reality, but isn’t afraid to embrace the genre, and let it play havoc during any and all situations. Her voice is playful, textured, and lively, and she brings a personality to Leela that almost leaps out of the screen. Check out some of her best bits below.
Lesley Nicol - Matilda Weasley in Hogwarts Legacy
Like many fans of Harry Potter, I spent many an hour earlier in the year exploring Hogwarts Legacy and marveling at the creation of a full Hogwarts landscape to be explored. And of course, the voice acting in the game is just as stellar as all the other details, including Lesley Nicol as Matilda Weasley. Now many will recognise Nicol from her turn in Downton Abbey, but she is the voice of countless animated characters and has worked on everything from Animaniacs, to Tom and Jerry to the Captain Underpants film.
The game itself is a rich and enthralling tale of mystery and intrigue, supported by a wonderful cast of characters; and the Weasley ancestor is just what fans would have wanted. She is measured and poised, commanding and authoritative while remaining nurturing and compassionate towards the central player character. She has a wonderful melody to her voice that is so easy to be enveloped by and creates a great balance between the tone of a teacher, and that of a friend. Check out the clip below.
Julia Sawalha - Ginger in Chicken Run
Our final actor is Julia Sawalha, who most of you will know from her wonderful turn as 'Saffy' in the ever-popular British Sitcom 'Absolutely Fabulous' (Ab Fab). However it’s Sawalha's voice acting that we are here to appreciate, and although she lends her voice to video games, recently World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, as well as Fable 2, of course, her turn as Ginger in Chicken Run is well worth celebrating. Unfortunately, the original cast is not returning for the sequel, with Aardman quoting the reason that many of the actor's voices have changed over the twenty years since the film's release.
However, a brilliant script and heightened situations meant a chance for all its actors to stretch their vocals and create energetic performances, and Sawalha's is no exception, with Ginger being the central point from which the story originates, not to mention a boldly written and gutsy character.
Broad accents and big characters, all incorporated with the occasional chicken cluck - what’s not to love? Chicken Run was one of the first animated films I ever saw that had a lasting impression on me, not just as a great animation, but as a great overall film. And although I’m sure it was for many reasons, its stellar cast and the creation of its central female protagonist voiced by Sawalha was certainly a huge part of that. She brings desperation, certainty, and strength through her voice which is evident right from the start. Check out the clip below.
Hope you've enjoyed this appreciation blog for some of the amazing animated voices out there, pretty soon we'll be taking a deeper dive into the creation of animated character voices, and how people go about it!
Happy Voicing folks,