DWAYNE "THE ROCK" JOHNSON: Boat a boat!
The gods have given me a--
NARRATOR: In recent years, big actors like Chris Pratt
The Rock, and Margot Robbie, are taking on roles
in animated movies more and more.
ANNOUNCER: Actors and actresses
perform for unseen audiences.
NARRATOR: You can see the appeal, roll up to work
in your pajamas, and say a few lines into a microphone
seems like a sweet gig, right?
JOAN: It actually takes months of training,
and sometimes years
and when I've worked with people that are on Broadway
and celebrities, almost always, and these are actors
and almost always, they'll say to me, I had no idea.
NARRATOR: So, how exactly do
actors prepare for animated roles?
We went straight to the experts to find out.
RUDY: Hi, I'm Rudy Gaskins,
CEO of the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences
here with my partner, Joan, to talk
about all things voice acting.
NARRATOR: Joan and Rudy have been
teaching their craft for over 25 years.
RUDY: We've worked with Phil LaMarr, who's one of
the voices of Family Guy and Nancy Cartwright
who's the voice of Bart Simpson.
NANCY CARTWRIGHT: Your attention please, your
attention please. I have an announcement to make.
RUDY: You wouldn't believe a 60 year old woman
is that adolescent's voice,
but she is and she's extraordinary.
NARRATOR: But talent is only part of the equation.
When it's just your voice doing all the work
you have to make sure that instrument is in tip top shape.
Voice coaches lead actors through a variety of exercises
to optimize their vocal chords
and condition their mouth muscles.
Some of these are things you might expect
like controlling your breathing
and learning to speak on the breath.
JOAN: Hi, how are you?
NARRATOR: Some of them are less expected
like the jaw, throat, and tongue warmups
that actors do before they get in the booth.
JOAN: Most people, their tension is in their jaw.
So, I'm using these fingers to hold the jaw
not clench the jaw, but hold it
and I'm gonna take a diaphragmatic breath in.
So if I go...
Now I'm gonna do it on sound.
It's key to have a relaxed open back of the throat,
as opposed to a tense and fixed back of the throat,
which means that sometimes the breath can't go out
the mouth so it has to go shoot out the nose.
And that's when you get things like nasality.
NARRATOR: Nasal might actually
work for certain characters.
OWEN WILSON: Of course I wanna keep racing.
BOB BERGEN: Th-this is my backyard.
NARRATOR: But in most roles, actors wanna speak
more deeply and roundly so their voices
can capture a fuller range of emotional expression.
WILL ARNETT: Outta curiosity, why wouldn't you
wanna marry me? Just, you know, again, purely for curiosity.
JOAN: The little dingy thing in the back is called the
uvula. Most people's are frozen and they are kinda stuck.
So there's exercises like...
You'll hear voiceover people do that in abundance.
And it's to exercise the uvula in the back,
so that it's almost like
a punching bag the way it moves.
NARRATOR: Clever tongue twisters are
another key part of actor's warmup routines.
JOAN: What everyone knows is Peter Piper
picked a peck of pickled peppers.
But there is a lot of tongue twisters
that aren't necessarily long,
but they really help nip in the bud certain pronunciations.
Abominable abdominals, abominable abdominals,
abominable abdominals, abominable abdominals.
Kinky cookie, kinky cookie, kinky cookie.
Lemon lime liniment, lemon lime liniment.
Eleven benevolent elephants, try it.
CAMERAMAN: Eleven benevel...
I don't even think I can say that word normally.
RUDY: Yeah, that's why it's in there.
NARRATOR: These exercises help to relieve tension.
But even some seasoned actors will still get nervous
once they hop in front of the mic.
JOAN: Their throat gets dry, their tongue gets dry.
When you talking there's a lot of
What I'll do is I will eat a green apple.
NARRATOR: The acids that give green apples
their sour taste also can stimulate saliva production.
This helps clean and moisten the mouth,
reducing problems like lip smacking and mic clicks.
Some people have the opposite problem.
They produce too much saliva when they're worked up.
JOAN: So they sound like they're
a little drunk, but they're nervous.
NARRATOR: Luckily there's a quick fix for actors
who hyper-salivate in front of the mic.
JOAN: What I tell them to do is take coffee grinds,
just a pinch and put it underneath their tongue,
and let it absorb.
NARRATOR: The coffee grinds aren't tasty.
RUDY: That is not good.
NARRATOR: But they do dry up excess saliva,
minimizing the sound of a wet mouth.
A unique problem arises in the booth
when actors are pronouncing words
beginning with P, B, D, G, or T.
JENNY SLATE: You're welcome Batman.
SAMUEL L. JACKSON: Besides, I
knew the cops would let you go.
ALISON BRIE: Blast!
NARRATOR: These sounds are called plosives.
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY: And that's up!
NARRATOR: It's these air vibrations
that are the foundation of beatboxing.
But not so much in voice acting.
RUDY: That burst of air is very loud and dramatic.
One of the simplest ways to get rid of that,
so if you have a pencil in front of your microphone,
and you're speaking, when you say something like,
P it gets stopped by the pencil.
NARRATOR: Contrary to what people might think,
voice acting can actually be very physical.
RUDY: You can conduct yourself much the way
a symphony conductor works with an orchestra,
when he wants something legato
and easy and when he wants big motions.
You can do that with your hands and your body.
If I wanted to say many moaning men,
I want that to be legato and smooth and loving,
so I can use my hands like a conductor
and go, many moaning men.
If I wanted to be sharper, I'd say many moaning men.
JOAN: So your voice follows your body.
RUDY: If I said take a Superman pose
and now say many moaning men making money, it changes.
If I say put your hands on a lectern
and become the president then it's
going to change the way you speak.
If I say put your hands on your hip
and start moving your head--
JOAN: Then all of a sudden--
RUDY: Then now, yeah.
JOAN: You're gettin' down.
And this often comes up in voice acting
where the script is saying that you're at
a baseball game, let's say, and then there's atmosphere,
you know, the fans are going crazy,
but there's still dialogue happening, right?
One of the things that we have to do is
we have to talk over, as if there's a crowd there,
but that's not yelling, it is talking over
the crowd or the noise, right?
So I was working with someone
and they just kept yelling into the microphone
so I finally said to 'em, use your hands
as if a wave was coming up and over
so that while you're saying the line,
you're gonna say the line as if you're talking up and over.
So when he finally did that, he was stunned.
NARRATOR: In live action films, the actors have
sets, costumes, makeup, and practical effects
to help them get into character.
In animated films, actors have their imaginations.
WILL ARNETT: I'm becoming, I'm becoming I am Batman.
RUDY: When you're working on a particular script,
it may call for a certain mood.
Maybe it starts with, brr, it's cold in here.
And so okay, this gonna be a cold experience,
but you're in the booth, you don't have people with you,
you don't have props, you don't have
a real environment, and you have to create a lot.