Gillian Anderson is one of those people who probably needs no introduction:
every week for the last seven years, people have been tuning in to watch her play Dana Scully, the rational foil to David Duchovny's Fox Mulder on The X-Files
. That role largely eclipes her other work; just try to name the four other movies she's starred in that aren't related to the paranormal.
When it was announced that Anderson was to provide the voice for Princess Mononoke
's Moro, a wolf god and mother figure to San, the titular character, some anime fans--arguably the most particular bunch in the world when it comes to voiceover work--immediately went for the jugular, wondering if her performance would essentially be a retread of Scully.
Count me among the people who think she did an excellent job. Anderson's Moro is ferocious yet tender, a loving mother who won't hesitate to kill for those she cares for. She captures Moro's convictions and her contradictions expertly; I just had to find out how she took to this, one of her first voice-acting jobs that wasn't a Scully retread.
Emru Townsend: I know you've done some voice work for other cartoons:
Eek! the Cat,
The Simpsons, and
ReBoot, where you were essentially doing Dana Scully again.
So, really, it's not as much of a stretch from what you're doing before that. Or did you consider it more of a stretch? I mean, you're acting only with your voice.
It felt like it. It was difficult [laughs
] It was very challenging to settle on the right voice without feeling that I was forcing it or sounding completely ludicrous. I'm talking about Mononoke
here. For The Simpsons
and certainly for ReBoot
, doing [voice work] is just doing [more of] the same thing. But for Mononoke
it was a whole different story.
So what did you find the most challenging about playing Moro?
When we were recording it, I was recording it to the Japanese voices, because I was the first one that recorded. So I got to hear voice of the actor who played the character before me. The interesting thing is that the actor who played it is a famous Japanese transvestite, and so had a very deep voice. I started attempting to emulate that in some way, and could only go so far without feeling completely ridiculous, and also feeling like they should have just hired a man to play the role [laughs
] if that's what they wanted. But we were able to settle on a particular pitch that sounded appropriate, that sounded like it had the history of the character. And was different enough from Scully.
Do you ever get the feeling you've been typecast in that role, that it affects people's perceptions of any another role you work on?
No, fortunately not. Most of the scripts that ever come my way that have anything to do with Scully or with science fiction I stay away from. They don't even make their way to me. Other than that, a lot of the stuff that I have done and a lot of the stuff that comes my way is very different, fortunately.
You mentioned that you were working with the Japanese voice track. So you were playing off the original voices.
So how is that working, exactly? You had a script so you knew what they were saying, even though it was in Japanese?
Yeah. I had a script, a full English script which I'd read a couple times, so I knew the storyline, and what the intention was behind what we were saying. But Moro probably has the most cryptic lines out of any of them, and some of them I found kind of difficult to say. It's one thing to be able to pretend to imagine one's self as a creature, specifically a 300-year-old wolf, and attempt to settle into that age and that character, in an attempt to make the words sound feasible. But you have to completely get out of your head when you're doing it.
And at the same time you're trying to time it to the lip movements in the film as it already exists.
Did you generally find that constraining, or is that not a problem after a while?
No, not really. I think it's probably a little different with Western animation in terms of trying to sync it up, but because of the fact that it's voiceover and the mouth movements are Japanese mouth movements anyway, it gives you a great deal of leeway, because there's not that much you can do to synchronize them.