Picking a voice for an animated film is a hugely important part of the process, and one that can make or break a film. Get the right voice, that the animated character comes to life; a living, breathing creature with believable thoughts and feelings. Get it wrong, and the character is disjointed, the voice and the actions never quite gelling and the illusion failing to convince.
The narrator has to be soft and warm, but with the ability to bring a slightly darker and more sinister edge to the performance when required. We always knew we wanted a feminine voice, to counteract the very masculine Beastie, and the decision was made quite early on that we’d cast someone who could perform as a middle aged woman, so they could potentially be the ‘Mum’ between the children and their Gran.
Brian Blessed was an obvious choice for the Beastie, there really wasn’t anyone else we felt could give us the same performance, and the delivery he gave us proved us right. The narrator, however, is a much subtler performance, and required many hours of careful thought before we found Alison Steadman. Most people these days will best know Alison as “Pamelaaaar” from Gavin and Stacy, but for me she will always be Mrs Bennet from the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
She is a very versatile actress, with a huge range of diverse work on her CV, and we’re very much looking forward to working with her on this project. And maybe getting her to say “Oh Mr Bennet” when we’ve finished.