Not all voice acting is standing in a booth with a microphone in front of you, as Joe Tandberg, voice of Iorek Byrnison in the latest adaptation of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, explained in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.
In case you’ve missed this adaptation of the popular book trilogy, which has been screened on the BBC (and HBO in the US) in recent weeks, Iorek is a polar bear.
Joe Tandberg has been praised for his portrayal of the character thus far, and in episode seven of the series, there’s an impressive fight scene between Iorek and the current bear king in Svalbard, Iofur Raknison.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tandberg explained that he acted as a stand-in for Iorek on set – and this led to some interesting scenes, especially with Joi Johannsson, who voiced Iofur.
He revealed that he sat down with Johannsson and choreographed the fight scene before being filmed wearing white suits with dots on, which allows the animators to mimic movements and bring the computer animated bears to life.
“We basically wrestled as close to what the bears do in the fight. Our hands went from being paws to being jaws,” Tandberg revealed.
“When they’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder or smashing into each other, we would use our hands to get the most accurate feeling you would get from watching those two bears fight. It’s a tricky thing, because obviously we’re not shaped like bears,” he added.
Tandberg also explained that both he and Johannsson wore weights on their ankles to help them mimic the movement of Iorek’s and Iofur’s heavy paws.
He also spoke of the challenge of this kind of scene from a voice acting perspective, because there’s very little dialogue but the bears are still making sounds. He explained that this means the continuity of each take can be different, because it’s essential to listen and mimic the sounds that they make.
“When can I snarl? When can I roar? When’s the heavy breathing? That’s something you go through in the choreography and rehearsal, and then on the day you go full bear,” Tandberg said.
Tandberg also spoke about how he got into voice acting, and in particular video game acting, revealing that it wasn’t an intentional choice. When he first moved to England, his agent got him an audition for Telltale Games, which gave him a foot in the door of the industry.
He also revealed that he loves voicing video games because “it’s getting more theatrical because of the motion capture”.
Gamepur recently picked out its top voice actress and voice actor of 2019. Laura Bailey was named as voice actress of the year for her roles in Gears 5, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and Catherine: Full Body.
Meanwhile, Richard Epcar was picked as voice actor of the year thanks to his parts in Mortal Kombat 11, Kingdom Hearts III, and Daemon X Machina.
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