Eugene Levy has carved out a varied acting career, from comedy to improvisation to impersonation, television to film.
Nothing, he says, is as draining as voice work.
“You do kind of get exhausted. I didn’t realize how much I was hammering away at lines until the end. The squealing and crying and going over and over – it takes its toll,” Levy says.
(That squealing and crying is for a character and not the director.)
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Levy is a veteran of voice work (“Dilbert,” “Astro Boy,” “Curious George”) but says there’s something special about his latest movie, “Finding Dory.” He’s cast as Dory’s dad in the sequel to “Finding Nemo.”
“The film should reach out to adults, because the parents (in “Dory”) are trying to deal with an adversity. I felt an emotional swell that is right there in the story. I got that by just reading the script for the first time,” Levy says. “When I saw the movie, I really got that. It’s a nice emotional moment.”
The adversity is that Dory and her parents have been separated. This is complicated by Dory’s faulty short-term memory. When Dory begins to remember small things about her parents, she goes on a trek to find them.
Levy says he likes the flexibility that voice work gives him, as he can play any creature, a car or a tree. “You just try to hit a line and give the director enough options.”
Normally, he would do a lot of improvising, but in the case of “Finding Dory,” Levy did very little. He would start trying something different only if he got the go-ahead from the director.
Recording sessions for feature films generally are one actor and the director. Levy was excited when he got to work with Diane Keaton, who provides the voice of Dory’s mom.
Levy was in Toronto working on his cable series “Schitt’s Creek” while Keaton was in Los Angeles. A video monitor allowed the actors to see each other at work. Recording together helped Levy because he could change his lines to fit better with the way Keaton was delivering her lines.
“It was fun for me to get to watch her work. I was mesmerized,” Levy says. “I don’t recall a recording session like that before.”
Of course, he’s got 45 years of TV and film work to his credit to remember.