My secret life as an actor just keeps getting stranger and stranger.
I showed up for what I thought would be a simple announcer’s voice test, just to get a read on my voice quality. I had no idea this was an audition for a role as a cartoon character. It made me uneasy, pushing me way out of my comfort zone. So of course I had to go for it. They began by asking me to read for two parts. The first was the Bad Guy’s Sidekick, the second role was the Hero. Oh yeah, did I mention that I had to read all parts in English with a Middle-Eastern accent?
As we got started, the director explained to me that in animation, one really needs to go over the top with the role, exaggerating everything to about 200 percent of normal. He seemed to like my bad guy sidekick much better than my hero (comparing me at one point to Peter Lorre), and he asked me to take 10 minutes to look over the monologue of the Main Bad Guy and come back to read for that. So I came back to read for Main Bad Guy (named Zoofrilla, or something like that) and though I felt quite silly, I was glad to get through it. I was also glad to be in a padded room where no one could see or hear me. I don’t think I did all that well, but I have learned from past experience not to rule anything out. The director told me that the read was good and he would get back to me if I got the part. He also asked me to work on a more heroic voice, telling me that I was much better at evil than heroic. That really gave me pause. Could this have anything to do with the fact that I had to do the whole thing in a Mideast accent? Do I have some deeply ingrained prejudice against that accent (and my accent wasn’t great, but in my head I was imagining Shimon Peres or Hafez Assad)? Perhaps with all that has been drummed into Americans I have some deep-seated stereotypes related to certain accents that I should try to expunge. Or maybe it is just hard to pull off a swashbuckler in a foreign accent, because let’s face it, I’m no actor mmmkay?