Stop by Eric Bauza’s house and you may find him in the closet.
He’s not obsessed with fashion, he’s doing his job. The Canadian voice actor uses the walk-in closet in his home as a makeshift recording studio. It’s the quietest place for him to make recordings when working on a new project. The silence is particularly important when he’s trying to match voice work done by another actor.
That’s what he’s doing with the new Netflix animated series from DreamWorks Animation, “The Adventures of Puss In Boots.” In addition to the five episodes that premiere on Jan. 16, new episodes will debut throughout the coming year on Netflix.
Antonio Banderas has been the voice of the swashbuckling tabby since the character was introduced a decade ago in “Shrek 2.”
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“As a voice imitator, its important to study and absorb certain personalities and characteristics. You never know if you are going to be able to do it until you are asked,” Bauza says, switching to an imitation of actor Paul Giamatti. “ I didn’t know I could do Paul Giamatti until I had to.”
He jokes that his neighbors must think there are 12 people living in his apartment because of all the voices he does.
For “The Adventures of Puss In Boots,” Bauza not only had to match the soft Latin voice Banderas gave the cat, he had to find the right attitude to play the character. Puss in Boots is a romantic, scallywag, confidant and thief. All of those traits must come through as Puss In Boots visits a magical town where everyone lives in happiness and harmony.
That changes when he paws around the legendary treasure that has kept the town hidden from the world.
“This is a comedy show, but it’s filled with lots of adventure and wild characters,” says Executive Producer Doug Langdale.. “Puss in Boots is a hero — so, naturally, our show really focuses on how he saves the people of this magical town and defeats the bad guys, and there’s lots of swordplay and combat action.
“But at its heart the show is a great ensemble character comedy that explores new aspects of the character of Puss in Boots.”
To match the work Bandaras had done, Bauza not only listened to all the films featuring the cat, he watches footage of Banderas recording the voice. That’s where Bauza discovered the key to speaking for Puss in Boots.
“What I saw when I watched Antonio was that he was having a good time,” Bauza says. “Puss In Boots has an attitude. He’s a bit of a womanizer. He’s a hero and an outlaw. It’s also a challenge because Puss speaks in such a whisper.
“But, when I’m doing the voice, I’m not imagining myself as a cat. I’m thinking of what Antonio would have done that day,” he says. “That has made it a lot of fun.”
The team behind the new series knew Bauza could bring just the right voice to the character. He’s the voice of Chet in the DreamWorks animated series “Turbo FAST.” Bauza’s other voice credits include work on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Adventure Time,’ “The Fairly OddParents,” “Scooby-Doo,” “Ben 10: Omniverse” and “The Book of Life.”
It’s a long list of credits for a person who started working in animation as a character designer, working with a few production studios in Hollywood. He switched from drawing to talking when friends asked him to record “scratch” tracks, temporary recordings that are generally replaced later.
One of those projects was the 2007 animated series “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera.” It not only got his voice career going but many of the people working on “Puss In Boots” were involved with “El Tigre.”
Also providing voices in “Puss In Boots” are Jayma Mays, Laraine Newman and Joshua Rush. Throughout the series’ first season, recurring and guest-starring voices will include John Leguizamo, Danny Trejo, Maria Bamford and Jim Cummings.