During the early recording sessions for the new Netflix animated series "Turbo F.A.S.T.," Reid Scott heard a lot from directors about "the way Ryan did it." They were referring to the way Ryan Reynolds voiced Turbo, the speedster snail from the feature film "Turbo" released earlier this year.
Slowly — not quite at a snail's pace — those comparisons stopped as Scott managed to keep the attitude Reynolds used to originate the role while giving the voice work enough personal verbal spin to make it his own. You can hear how he accomplished this animated task when the initial five episodes of the series are released by Netflix on Christmas Eve. More new episodes will follow.
"Taking over a voice that someone else did poses a unique challenge," Scott says. "I was lucky to have several private screenings of the movie — even before it was released — where I could just sit with the character. That gave me the opportunity to pick up on little tricks.
"We were not trying to do a voice match but an attitude match. It's like tuning a piano where you calibrate it to yourself," he says.
Scott gets to make TV history with his voice work. Netflix has released original programming, such as "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards," but this is the first original animated series for the online TV service.
"Turbo F.A.S.T," the first animated series for kids from DreamWorks, is a high-octane comedy where Turbo and his adrenaline-fueled crew go on daring adventures, race the coolest tracks and take on crazy challenges. No matter how wild things get, these snails always have each other's backs — or is it shells?
Scott is better known for his on-screen work as one of the guys on the cable comedy "My Boys" and as the deputy director of communication Dan Egan on HBO's Veep. This is his second animated series for Scott, who voiced the character of Mike Chilton on "Motorcity," another show dealing with speedy adventures.
"It seems like if you are looking for a slightly confused, speed-consumed character, I'm your man," Scott says.
Landing the voice work has been a longtime goal. As a youngster, he watched "Speed Racer," "G.I. Joe" and "M.A.S.K." When the longtime fan of Warner Brothers animation heard that Mel Blanc had voiced so many different characters, he was certain voice work was a "dream job."
Working on "Turbo F.A.S.T." confirmed his feelings.
"Not only is it very creative work, it's nice how flexible the schedule is," Scott says. "Most of the time, they try to get the whole ensemble together to do the recordings. But, because we shoot 'Veep' in Baltimore, if I can't be in Los Angeles for a recording session, I will go into a recording booth in Baltimore and they will patch me in."
Bouncing between on-screen and voice work has given Scott a broad look at acting. He has found there is a major difference between the two worlds. When he does work on-screen, Scott second guesses himself long after the day is done and thinks about how he could have played a scene differently. Because voice actors get to record a line of dialogue so many different ways, Scott never has any questions about his work when sessions are done.
And he's not even thinking about how Ryan did it anymore.
Along with Scott, the voice cast includes comedian Ken Jeong, who reprises his role from the feature film as manicurist-turned-home-shopping icon Kim Ly. Other voice talents include: Eric Bauza as Chet; Mike Bell as White Shadow; John Eric Bentley as Whiplash; Grey DeLisle as Burn; Phil LaMarr as Smoove Move; and Amir Talai as Skidmark.
"Turbo FAST," 12:01 a.m. Dec. 24 on Netflix
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.