One of the most sought-after coaches for animation voice-over, three-time Emmy nominee Bob Bergen is heard in thousands of commercials, promos, video games, and TV series. He joined Connie Willis (info) to discuss his career, which began when he was fourteen. Following his dream to someday voice his favorite cartoon character, Porky Pig, he tirelessly tracked down Porky's voice, the legendary Mel Blanc, at his home in California. The star graciously offered the teen advice on how to succeed in the industry, which resulted in the young man securing a Hollywood agent for himself soon after.
Looking back, Bergen offered his advice to those who want to pursue voice acting. "There is no such thing as a great voice; there's only good actors and bad actors," he explained. The key, he continued, is to study acting first —particularly improv acting— and then to focus on voiceover. Other factors to consider include the use of the whole face and body when voicing, not just the voice, and adding creative flourishes to roles based in one's animation. Ultimately, though, it boils down to being willing to work harder than anyone else. Bergen provided examples of these concepts with a number of recorded examples of his work, including Luke Skywalker, Looney Tunes characters, extraterrestrial creatures and monsters, and even an infant and a mosquito.
Several listeners had questions for Bergen. In reply to Glenn in Colorado who asked what happened to the traditional Saturday morning cartoon lineup, he explained that the rise of the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon has made animated shows available to kids twenty-four hours a day.
Calling from Indiana, Eric observed that in an industry like voice acting, it seems that even very talented actors can be passed over for parts; it's more about the individual people doing the casting, in his view. Bergen agreed, saying that a huge number of variables are at play at any given audition: casting people can be looking for something very specific, or maybe they're just having a bad day, for example. The best actors can go to dozens of auditions without any luck before landing a part, and it's just a matter of the right conditions aligning in that moment, he noted.
After Connie and Bergen mentioned that, in their experience, Los Angeles casting agents were less candid in their feedback than those in New York, Lori in Illinois called in with a solemn promise: that if anyone ever dared to be anything other than honest with her beloved Pat Boone at an audition, they would have to answer to her about it.