When it comes to voice acting, females haven't always dominated the conversation. But now diversity and equal representation of women in voice acting is rapidly improving, and now more than ever before more TV shows, audio books, video games and Hollywood movies now have a female voice over in a leading role.
Even Disney has added another diverse face to its collection of animated princesses. Elena of Avalor is Disney’s first Latina princess living in an enchanted fairy tale kingdom inspired by Latin cultures and folklore. A Spanish voice-over cast and a diverse production crew have brought this representation of Latin and Hispanic traditions to life in what is a predominantly American franchise.
So how do British leading ladies fair when it comes to Hollywood movies, particularly animated ones? Here is a brief look at some of Britain’s most loved female actors performing unfamiliar voice overs in global blockbusters.
Helena Bonham Carter
Versatile actor Helena Bonham Carter is well known for her film roles in the Harry Potter series, The King’s Speech and Alice in Wonderland, but very few are aware of her voice over work. A one woman acting machine, Helena B-C’s animation voice work includes Emily in Time Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005), Lady Campanula Tottington in Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit (2005) and Mother Squirrel in The Gruffalo (2009).
You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking Mel Gibson’s role of Rocky the Rooster would be the leading role in Chicken Run (2000), but it’s actually Julia Sawalha who voices the feisty, determined protagonist, Ginger. Using the right mix of charm, toughness and despair, Julia Sawalha knocks it out the park in this voice over role, bringing character to the world’s most-loved animated chicken.
In an interview Dame Helen Mirren once said that she considers herself “hopeless” at voiceovers. But with a whole host of voice performances on her resume, including portraying Deep Thought in Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Nyra in Legends of the Guardians (2010) and Dean Hardscrabble in Monsters University (2013), I for one think she is far from it. I can’t wait to see what voice over work comes her way next.
Seven-time Oscar nominee Dame Judi Dench is perhaps best internationally known for her role as M in the James Bond franchise, but among her film acting and theatre performances, Dame Judi has also voiced a number of animated characters including Miss Lilly in Angelina Ballerina (2002) and Mrs Calloway in Walt Disney’s Home on the Range (2004).
As one of Britain’s most acclaimed actors, the wonderful Emma Thompson has many iconic disguises under her belt. From playing leading roles in all-time classic films, to starring in audio books and period dramas, Emma Thompson has done it all. But some of her best work comes in the form of animation voice-overs, including Captain Amelia in Treasure Planet (2002), Queen Elinor in Brave (2012) and the lovely Mrs Potts in Disney’s Beauty and The Beast (2017).