Phoebe Bowers on Justin Roiland and Nick Kroll
Voice acting – an art frequently overlooked in regards to its complexity. It is a nuanced and multi-faceted art which expects the actor to grapple with accent, dialect, tonality, and acoustics. However it is not always given the credibility it deserves; there is still no category of this nature for the Emmys or Oscars.
Here are two voice actors paving the way for this form’s recognition and gaining big names for themselves: Big Mouth’s Nick Kroll and Rick and Morty’s Justin Roiland. Big Mouth’s feature on Netflix has received critical acclaim with 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and an Emmy awarded for its music and animation. Just two months ago Kroll obtained exposure on Jimmy Fallon’s ‘The Tonight Show’ exercising his skill in the field by slipping in and out of the raspy and husky voice of the character ‘Maury’ during the interview. Kroll voices a multitude of characters on the show of all ages and genders, exemplifying the range of his vocal repertoire. Similarly, hit show Rick and Morty’s Justin Roiland voices both Rick and Morty and several other characters in the series. The actor and co-creator’s magnum opus being episode 7 of season 3: ‘The Ricklantis Mixup.’ In this episode, viewers are taken to a citadel in a parallel universe featuring entirely an infinite number of central characters Rick and Morty. This means that Roiland practically voices the entire twenty minutes. Roiland presents to us several variations of the two characters we’re familiar with, but somehow makes each version of the two characters unique. In this more self-serious episode of the show, he manages to make each version of Rick and Morty emotionally dimensional due to each version of the same two characters experiencing disparate environments and modes of oppression. The episode in itself being an extended metaphor for systemic racism and classism naturally births a great scope of emotionally variant voices which, somehow, Roiland seemed to effortlessly portray.
JJ Donoghue on John Ratzenberger
Often, an actor is recognised as being iconic as a result of a single, defining film or scene in their career, one in which they deliver a performance of undeniable, resolute brilliance that permanently establishes them as a cinematic great.
However, there is also greatness in longevity. While the name John Ratzenberger might be unfamiliar to many, and while he could probably walk past you in the street without you ever realising, there is no doubt that everyone has heard his voice in a film on multiple occasions. This is because John Ratzenberger has voiced a character in every full-length Pixar film ever made. Despite only ever offering support roles and cameos in these films, his ubiquitous presence and contribution to the cultural domination of Pixar in the last 24 years deems him worthy of being regarded as a legend within the voice acting industry.
His characters are always memorable and funny, capable of leaving a lasting impression in a small space of time. My particular favourite of his is in Finding Nemo, in which he voices the entirety of the school of moonfish who befriend Dory and give her instructions on how to find Nemo by forming their group into shapes, while also ribbing the surly Marlin.
What’s more, the inevitability of Ratzenberger’s appearance when a new Pixar feature comes out creates a nice moment to look forward to, with his voice itself being one of the many ‘Easter eggs’ which tend to hide in these films.
Just like Pixar’s movies, then, John Ratzenberger’s voice acting is effortlessly brilliant, sentimental in its familiarity, and truly iconic.
Justine Schlossmacher on Okamoto Nobuhiko
Despite how much we’d like to deny it, when one thinks of voice acting, the place that usually comes to mind is Japan, and the anime industry. The range, raw passion, and versatility that most voice actors have will stun you—and none more so than Okamoto Nobuhiko. Exploding onto the scene with his performance as Accelerator in A Certain Magical Index in 2009, Okamoto clinched the Best New Actor Award and began what was to become a very successful career. While most famous for playing loud and exuberant characters who spend most of their dialogue yelling in some form, like Bakugō Katsuki from My Hero Academia and Nishinoya Yū from volleyball-themed Haikyuu, it comes as a shock to many when they hear he’s also made stellar performances as the suave Akabane Karma from Assassination Classroom, and the timid, quiet as a mouse Yōichi Saotome in Seraph of the End. In addition to voice acting, Okamoto has also made his singing debut, having released two EPs as well as many character songs and collaborations. Clearly a multi-talented individual with many projects lined up for next few years, Okamoto is someone we’ll surely continue to see (or hear) a lot more of in the future.