10 Actors That Were Surprisingly Dubbed
Any good film maker will try to capture an actors complete performance, that includes the audio dialogue. Whilst ADR (That’s Automated Dialog Replacement for anyone that gets frustrated at acronyms) is a common practice in film making, film makers will try to keep it to a minimum. It’s hard for actors to match the new dialogue with the intentions of the physically performance, and so the practice of ADR is usually reserved for fixing bad audio. However, another use is when the production wants to replace an actors voice, this is technique known as over-dubbing. And that is what our nasty little list is all about. We are looking at those most surprising over-dubbing of actors, where the audiences may not have even know that the voices had been replaced, or where the actors themselves were questionable replaced with someone else’s voice. Prepare for a countdown of 10 Actors that were Surprisingly Dubbed.
Vigo the Carpathian – Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
The Scourge of Carpathia, the Sorrow of Moldavia, Vigo the Carpathian was the larger than life spirit, planning on ruling the world, in Ghostbusters 2. The 16th Century medieval tyrant and sorcerer was played by German wrestler, boxer, and actor Wilhelm von Homburg (Real name of Norbert Grupe). However, that deep gravelly voice you hear is not that of Homburg, but rather the distinctive tones of the Exorcist himself, Max von Sydow.
Homburg speech was slurred and hard to understand with his heavy German accent, and so Sydow was brought in to dub over his lines. Sadly Homburg passed away in 2004, but Sydow has kept his character alive, by returning to voice Vigo in Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
Gump – Legend (1985)
Director Ridley Scott brought us a dark fantasy treat in 1985, with his epic fairy-tale film Legend. The movie was filled with characters made up in heavy prosthetics, but it was one of the actors that had the least make up, that ended up losing their voice.
The self-appointed elven protector of the world’s last unicorns, Honeythorn Gump, was portrayed by German/Swiss actor David Bennent. During post, Scott decided that Bennet’s accent was a little distracting and so the decision was made to replace his dialogue with the voice of actress Alice Playten, who starred in the film as Blix, the Lord of Darkness’ right-hand goblin. She provided a much softer, mystical tone to the character. Playten sadly passed away in 2011, but Bennet is still acting on stage and screen, despite his profile being a little less mainstream these days.
Eva Mendes – Exit Wounds (2001)
It’s one thing to lose your voice because of your accent, it’s another entirely to lose it because it makes you sound dumb. That was the issue Eva Mendes frustratingly found herself in, when she was cast in the 2001 action film Exit Wounds.
Mendes finished principle photography and had no idea that film producers had taken a dislike to the way that she spoke. Without her prior knowledge, another actress was brought in to re-dub her lines, because the producers felt that Mendes didn’t sound “intelligent enough”. Mendes only discovered her dubbing, when she saw the film at the cinema.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Hercules in New York (1969)
Arnold Schwarzenegger may be a mega star these days, not only being a massive name in film but also in politics, but there was a time when he struggled to get film work, because of his Austrian accent.
Schwarzenegger had made a huge name for himself in bodybuilding, but he desperately wanted to try his hand at acting. He got his chance when he bagged the main role in Hercules in New York. Credited under the stage name “Arnold Strong”, his accent in the film was so thick that his lines had to be dubbed in post-production. Despite such a huge blow for the wanna-be star, his persistence and large statue eventually won Hollywood over.
Andie MacDowell – Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
Andie MacDowell screen debut did not go as smoothly as she would have hoped. The young actress was a risky bet for director Hugh Hudson, as she was not a trained actor, but he felt she commanded great screen presence, and so he hired her as Jane Porter, the love interest of Tarzan, in Greystoke. However, there was one major problem, MacDowell southern US accent.
Hudson felt that MacDowell’s voice just did not fit the part, so he turned to actress Glenn Close to provide Jane’s voice. The crazy thing about this is that fellow actor Christopher Lambert’s barely intelligible French accent remained through to the final film.
Gert Fröbe – Goldfinger (1964)
Auric Goldfinger was the main antagonist of the James Bond film Goldfinger, based on Ian Flemings seventh novel. The gold obsessed maniac was played by German film and stage actor Gert Fröbe, and it’s the role that he is best known for. However, the star did not speak English very well, and so right from start of production, it was always planned to dub over his performance.
English actor Michael Collins filled for Fröbe, giving him his distinctive authoritarian vocals. That said, for the German version of the film Fröbe dubbed himself, so he did eventually get to see a version of the film with his role completely intact.
The Bond Girls
Goldfinger was not the only Bond actor that fell foul of being dubbed. Many of the early Bond girls were hired because of their looks and not for their acting abilities, and many of them struggled with the English language. For many of girls, post production would see voice-over artist step in to enhance their performance.
Whilst the series have used many different voice actors over the years, there is one in particular that stands out, Monica “Nikki” van der Zyl. The German voice-over artist has voiced at least 15 of Bond Girls, including Ursula Andress, Eunice Gayson, Jane Seymour and Shirley Eaton. In Dr. No, Nikki dubbed almost all the female characters apart from Lois Maxwell’s Money Penny and three others.
Frank – Hellraiser (1987)
Clive Barker had a rough time making Hellraiser. The studio backing the classic horror, New World Pictures, had little faith in it, and that meant the movie getting a small budget to work with. With all the prosthetics and VFX needed to get the film finished, money was tight. But after seeing an early cut, backers injected more money into the project, but on one condition, that they tap the more lucrative US market.
Barker was forced to set the movie in the states, meaning that he had to overdub several of his cast members. The biggest casualty was actor Sean Chapman who played the human version of Uncle Frank. Whilst the majority of the main cast were already American, Chapman’s British accent was top on the chopping list.
Star Wars – Darth Maul
Star Wars is one of those films series where dubbing is just part and parcel of the film making process. With so many actors stuck inside plastic suits and tons of prosthetics, dubbing is the only way to give the characters voices. The most famous example of is David Prowse, who had no idea his character of Darth Vader was getting dubbed. When A New Hope released, he was disheartened to discover his urban Bristolian accent had been replaced with the voice of James Earl Jones.
Whilst it’s easy to understand why Prowse West Country accent was changed, some other ones are more questionable. one of the more surprising voice changes came from the prequel films, replacing actor and martial artist Ray Park’s very few spoken lines. Much like Darth Vader, Park’s role as Darth Maul, was hastily dubbed in post, despite only speaking three lines in the whole movie, for a total of 33 words. British actor Peter Serafinowicz recorded Mauls new voice, giving the character a more husky and darker tone.
Sam Jones – Flash Gordon (1980)
Sam Jones was the lead star of the 1980’s superhero film Flash Gordon. The young actor beat Kurt Russell and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the gate, landing the huge role. However, all was not sunny on set and according to Jone’s himself, he bumped heads with producer Dino De Laurentis. “In my naivety at the age of 25 I just let the attorneys handle everything – I just let my representation handle it and they did not do a very good job at all.”
The resulting conflict ended with Jones dropping out of the project when post-production came around. Jones never attended any of the scheduled dubbing sessions, and so a voice-alike stood in for the star. Jones believes that about only half of the recorded dialogue was his own voice, captured on set.
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“Hello Horror Fans – Tank, fly, boss, walk…dub be good to me! I’ve lost my voice once or twice before. All that SCREAMING at the people I keep CHAINED in the basement takes its toll. However, finding you have been dubbed in big budget film must really HURT. Can you think of other examples? Let us know in the comments below. Until next time fams…