George DelHoyo – Rango (DVD)

July 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

As one of the most sought-out voiceover actors in the TV and film industries, George DelHoyo is using his talent to do something he’s never done before – give life to an animated character in a feature film.

In “Rango,” DelHoyo, who has narrated over 500 movie trailers and a number of TV show promotions throughout his career, lends his voice to Señor Flan, an accordion-playing owl who performs music with his mariachi band and also narrates the film.

During an interview with me, DelHoyo, 57, who is originally from Canelones, Uruguay, talked about how his late father helped inspire his role as Señor Flan and why he doesn’t go around during the day talking in the same voice he uses to narrate movie trailers.

“Rango” comes to DVD and Blu-ray July 15.

What was your first reaction when you saw a picture of Señor Flan?

(Laughs) I was pleasantly surprised. I had no idea it would be so detailed and beautiful. When I saw it I was blow away, not just by my character but all the characters. I also think the voice work of all the actors is superb starting with the incredible Johnny Depp.

I know in “Rango,” actors recorded their voices differently than in most animated films. They got a chance to work together with props rather than just recording alone in a sound booth. Did you get to participate?

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t. Señor Flan is the narrator so he doesn’t get to interact with the characters.

Please tell me you at least had an accordion in your hands when you were doing your voice work alone.

(Laughs) No, but you know what is so funny? My father, who unfortunately passed away a year and a half ago, the great Juan Angel DelHoyo, he was a great imitator. He was the only person I’ve ever met who could imitate an accordion. He would imitate the sound of an accordion and would do the body movements like he was playing it. [DelHoyo begins to imitate the sound of an accordion]. We would laugh so hard when we were kids. It was fantastic. So, I was thinking of my beloved father as I was doing the voice.

Do you consider the voice work you do on movie trailers “acting” or does it take a different skill set to find success in that specialized field?

I think you bring to your vocal work whatever your background is. When I do voiceover work, I always think in terms of character. I think about being part of the story or scene. When I did the promotions for “The Sopranos” I would always think of myself as one of those [mafia] guys.

Well, there definitely has to be acting involved because right now your everyday voice doesn’t sound like the one you use for the movie trailers.

Yeah, I always have to think about the demands and needs of the piece and what the music underneath sounds like. Then I tailor the sound accordingly. I don’t go around during the day going [in his movie trailer voice], “I’ll have one more drink. Bring me a fork. What did you put in the soup, lady?” I think I would scare people if I did that.

Was there a specific time in your life when you realized your voice wasn’t like most people and that you could probably make a career by using it?

My voice has always been a big part of my life. I started off in New York on Broadway and sang in musicals. I came to this country from Uruguay when I was three years old. I was speaking as much Spanish as a three-year-old child could and also learning English. I had to imitate sounds of another language and culture. I think learning both languages simultaneously helped me develop my ear and hear how different people sound.

Out of all the great voices in Hollywood who would you most like to have read you a bedtime story?

I think Morgan Freeman is a great choice. I think he has a beautiful voice and is a great actor and storyteller, so I’m going to go with him.


March 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin
Directed by: Gore Verbinski (“Pirates of the Caribbean”)
Written by: John Logan (“Gladiator”)

Industrial Light and Magic sure knows how to make a great first impression. “Rango,” the first-ever animated feature created by the George Lucas company, is an impressive adventure film set in the Old West featuring a scrawny pet chameleon as it’s courageous hero.

When Rango (Johnny Depp), an aspiring thespian, strolls into the small town of Dirt after landing in the desert, he is given the chance to start on a clean slate and become whoever he wants in his new surroundings. No one in Dirt knows who he is, so he conjures up a few lies and jumps into character as a mysterious gunslinger who isn’t afraid of anything the big, bad desert has to offer, including the villainous Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy).

Reminiscent of the storyline in the 1986 comedy “The Three Amigos,” the towns people, made up of some bizarre looking creatures, accept Rango into their dried-up community and make him sheriff when he accidentally kills a terrorizing hawk. As sheriff, it’s now up to Rango to somehow bring water to the thirsty people of Dirt before more of them pack up and take off in search of the one thing they need to survive the desert heat.

As an animated spaghetti Western, “Rango” takes its original narrative and sets it on a dark and dangerous path most cartoons would never tread. Leave it to director Gore Verbinski, who teamed up with Depp in the first two “Pirates” movies, to find inspiration from Western classics like those from director Sergio Leone. Along with exquisite imagery and witty dialogue from the title character, “Rango” is an imaginative and sort of hallucinatory tribute (see if you can spot the “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” reference) to a genre most kids aren’t exposed to nearly enough. With a lizard as the lead, this is as kid-friendly as it’s going to get.

Abigail Breslin – Rango

March 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Interviews

While actress Abigail Breslin, 14, might not be too familiar with the films of John Ford and Sergio Leone, her first experience with the Wild West also has a style all its own.

In the animated Western “Rango,” Breslin lends her voice to Priscilla, a young mouse who believes a strange chameleon named Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) has arrived to save her small desert town.

During an interview with me, Breslin, who, at the age of 10, earned an Oscar nomination in 2006 for her role in “Little Miss Sunshine,” talked about the unique way actors were recorded for their scenes in “Rango” and admits she was so young when she starred her first movie, she can’t even remember making it.

Not too many Westerns are made nowadays. Were you at all familiar with the genre?

I’ve actually never seen a Western. The only Western I’ve seen is “Rango.” My dad loves spaghetti Westerns, so I have a feeling I’m going to be seeing some more.

You’re originally from New York City, so I’m wondering what inspired Priscilla’s southern drawl?

I worked with a dialect coach in New York and L.A. [Director] Gore [Verbinski] had a specific way he wanted Priscilla to sound. He wanted her to sound rougher and not as pretty.

Most actors who do voice work for animated projects usually just show up at a studio and record their lines alone in a booth. Did it feel more liberating getting to interact with other actors?

Yeah, it was crazy. We all got to work together, so we got to play off each other. We wore costumes during the shoot. It was like when you were younger and you would go on a play date with your friends and play dress up and pretend, except this time it was with Johnny Depp.

What did you wear and did dressing up like your character help you actually get into character?

I wore a wig and a hat. It did [help] for a bit and then I started getting a rash from my wig on my neck so I had to stop wearing it. (Laughs) But it did get me to look and feel like Priscilla for a while.

What did you think of Priscilla when you first saw her?

I thought she was the most adorable thing ever. When I first got a sketch of her, I wanted to play her just based off how cute she was. Then I actually learned about the story and the character and wanted to do it even more. She’s gorgeous to say the least.

You’ve been acting in movies since you were five years old. Now that you are 14, do you have a better sense of what you are looking for in a project?

I just go role by role and decide if the character is someone I would like to know. That’s how I choose what I want to do, I guess.

So, how did it work back in 2002 when you got your role in “Signs?”

I was five so I honestly can’t remember. (Laughs) I honestly couldn’t tell you. (Laughs) That’s probably something my parents could tell you. That was such a long time ago. I can’t even really remember making the movie much less remember how I made decision about things.

Did life change for you back in 2006 when you were nominated for an Oscar for your role “Little Miss Sunshine” or did everything sort of just go back to normal?

It was a very exciting time in my career, but my life didn’t really change that much. I still had to take out the garbage and feed the dogs. Obviously it gave me a lot of opportunities. I was very lucky.

So you were never like, “Mom, come on, I’m an Academy Award-nominated actress. Do I really have to clean my room?”

(Laughs) No, I would have gotten killed. My brother actually tried to do that on the day I was nominated. My mom was like, “Alright, time for school” and my brother was like, “Aw, come on mom, don’t make her go today. And don’t make me go either because I’m obviously overwhelmed with excitement for her!” (Laughs) Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

Recently, your co-star in “Zombieland” Woody Harrelson said he really wasn’t interested in making sequels, but he really liked the script for “Zombieland 2” and could see himself doing it. Would you be interested in revisiting that role if you got the chance?

Definitely. I loved making the first one. It was a lot of fun. I loved the character, so, I’d love to.