When iconic actors are booked by advertising agencies for voice-over sessions, the poor creatives responsible for producing the campaign sometimes get more than they bargained for.
This clip featuring awesome Orson Welles was around when I was cutting my teeth in commercial production at Bradford’s Pennine Radio in 1979, so I guess it must be from the 1960s. As a young man, I recall listening in open-mouthed amazement (and admiration) to his increasingly angry put-downs as his frustration with the producer got the better of him.
This William Shatner clip was played on Howard Stern’s radio show. I don’t know when it was originally recorded, but again it’s a delightful example of a young creative struggling to contain a famous actor’s sense of mischief when he thinks that the person directing him really doesn’t have a clue — which certainly sounds like the case in this hilarious clip.
The point about booking incredibly famous, accomplished actors to voice commercials is — as far as the actors are concerned — that you want their voice to help sell your product, delivered in their unique style. Why, they think, would you need to tell them how to say it? What could you possibly know, that they don’t already know with all their experience, about how best to deliver what are often dreadful lines of commercial copy?
That’s one of the differences between jobbing VO artists and famous actors who voice commercials: the jobbing VO artists have to pretend to be happy taking direction and often have to rein in their annoyance when asked to read the same thing twenty times or more, emphasising this or that word, until the creative director is satisfied he’s got his money’s-worth out of the ‘talent’ (and often ends up using take one or two anyway). Many famous actors expect to turn up, read it once, maybe twice, their way, and go home again. They’re not above getting rather stroppy if it doesn’t work out that way. Personally, I don’t blame them one little bit.