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Voice Acting in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Recently I had the wonderful pleasure of going to see the most recent movie of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

If you have not already done so, I would highly recommend going to see it.  Not because it’s just like the book, not even because it’s a high fantasy, and not because it’s a lot closer to Lord of The Rings than it is The Hobbit.  But because of one giant Dragon.   Yes, the story is fun and fantastical, but I haven’t seen a dragon done so well in… well.. forever, really.  He looks so good I honestly thought he was real several times.  I know he’s not, but c’mon!  Dragon!!!

While I loved the movie, and I know people will argue with me on why it’s not that great, I did have a great time overall and at the same time I was slightly disappointed.

I fell in love with Smaug.  He’s so deliciously evil that I can’t help but want to be him (plus he’s a dragon).  What I fell in love with more, was his voice.  It was so deep and had a very good bass to it that it rumbled through the theater speakers.  Even though I wasn’t in the story I felt like I had to bow down to Smaug and do his bidding simply because of how he sounded.  As a voice actor that made me react with awe, the belief i had that out there in the world someone was capable of reaching such a range with their voice.  Who was this person? Was this their natural voice or is this a range that he can just reach whenever he just put a little effort into it?  I couldn’t wait to get home and find out.

And I was horribly disappointed.  Not at who his voice was.  But at how that low range was achieved.
Smaug was voiced by, none other than, Benedict Cumberbatch

This guy, seem familiar?  He was in the latest Star Treck, oh yeah and he's in a little show called "Sherlock"?

This guy.  Seem familiar?
He was in the latest “Star Trek”.  Oh, and he’s in a little show called “Sherlock”?

There’s nothing wrong with Mr. Cumberbatch, in fact I think he’s an amazing actor, and he did breathe life and emotion into Smaug.  However, in order to get the effect that I was talking about in the beginning of this post, they had to change his voice after the factin order to give it that bassy-trembly effect.  They lowered his voice a few octaves and added that rumbling effect I wrote about.
I was a little disappointed to learn that little tidbit.  In the theater I had come to honestly believe that there was someone out there in the world with a voice JUST like that.  A deep and trembling sound that makes you fear it and respect it at the same time.  I’m sure there is someone out there like that, but that was not the person to be the voice of Smaug.

Although it’s disappointing to learn that his voice, wasn’t exactly his voice, the acting was VERY much still there.   Special effects helps, but him telling the main cast he was going to turn them in to BBQ (paraphrasing that one), I totally believed it and was afraid of it happening.  Of course we all know that nothing much will really happen to Bilbo since he was in LOTR, but we still don’t know about the rest of the crew!

The emotion, character, expression, and believability were all there.  I’m only going to take one point off due to Peter Jackson not using his REAL voice.  I mean, he used the real voice… but he changed it to a range that Mr. Cumberbatch can’t achieve on his own naturally.
I think if they stuck with his natural voice not much would have changed.  It’s not like Mr. Cumberbatch has a high pitched voice, he has a naturally low voice in general.  Perhaps his voice just was not as low as they wanted to have it for a fire breathing, village burning, scary ass dragon.  But alas, I didn’t make the movie, I just watched it, and probably crapped my pants a few times.

Over all as a voice actor I give Mr. Cumberbatch a 10/10.  As the voice of Smaug however, I give it an 8.5/10, only because you can’t replicate it naturally.  That shouldn’t reflect on Mr. Cumberbatch’s skills, but Mr. Peter Jackson’s directorial changes to the voice.

Let me know what you think.  Agree? Disagree? Hated the movie so you don’t care?  Leave it in the comments!

Until next time!

One comment on “Voice Acting in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

  1. […] Voice Acting in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" […]

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