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Michael Bay responds to actors complaining about doing voicework

10.18.2012

In the last week we've had two actors, both Paul Bettany and Hugo Weaving, speak candidly about the voice work they've done for some of the most profitable films in Hollywood.  And, what they had to say wasn't exactly inspiring.  We reported on Hugo Weaving's thoughts on playing Megatron in Michael Bay's TRANSFORMERS films, where he said, "They wanted me to do it. In one way, I regret that bit. I don’t regret doing it, but I very rarely do something if it’s meaningless. It was meaningless to me, honestly. I don’t mean that in any nasty way. I did it."

Earlier in the week, English actor Paul Bettany, better known as the voice of Jarvis in both the IRON MAN films and THE AVENGERS, also voiced his nonchalant feelings on doing voice work for big blockbusters.

"My kids love them, but I've never seen them," he said. "They're just not my thing." Bettany revealed that "they don't send me the whole script, so I have no idea what the movies are about."  He noted that the process is very much like pulling a heist, "I feel like a pirate. This is robbery," he joked. "I walk in, I say some lines on a piece of paper for two hours, and then they give me a bag of money and I leave and I go about my day. I sort of feel guilty, because at least acting can be exhausting, with long hours... but I do nothing!"

So, what does that say about these two actors?  To me, it sounds like they are being honest about the process.  However, in doing so, it kind of cheapens their impact onscreen.  Both actors, regardless of the script and story involvement they had, were still able to pull off some great voice work for the larger piece of the pie.  I don't feel like they're complaining about the money, but the process.  Ultimately, actors typically are looking for that collaborative process with their director, but it seems the impersonal recording process has left them rather cold about it all. 

Naturally, director Michael Bay, who is infamous for his hot/cold relationship with his actors, had a response to this influx of criticism, posting this on his personal website:

"Do you ever get sick of actors that make $15 million a picture, or even $200,000 for voiceover work that took a brisk one hour and 43 minutes to complete, and then complain about their jobs? With all the problems facing our world today, do these grumbling thespians really think people reading the news actually care about trivial complaints that their job wasn’t “artistic enough” or “fulfilling enough”? I guess The Hollywood Reporter thinks so.

What happened to people who had integrity, who did a job, got paid for their hard work, and just smiled afterward? Be happy you even have a job – let alone a job that pays you more than 98% of the people in America.

I have a wonderful idea for all those whiners: They can give their “unhappy job money” to a wonderful Elephant Rescue. It’s the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Africa. I will match the funds they donate."

I respect all three of these guys (yes, even Bay) for what they do, so I find this little tiff interesting.  On one hand I can see Bay's point, as really, how much direction do you need to emote the characters they're playing?  It's a pretty easy payday.  For the actors, however, I can see their frustration as wanting to be a part of the bigger picture.  However, not every movie is a Terrance Malick flick where the director lives in your trailer with you, dissecting the script for two years before a frame of film is shot. 

What say you guys?

Michael Bay's next film, PAIN AND GAIN will hit sometime in 2013, Hugo Weaving can be seen this month in CLOUD ATLAS, and Paul Bettany will collect the booty once again for IRON MAN 3, slated for release on May 3, 2013.

Extra Tidbit: Do you think these guys are easily replaced as voice actors or are they staples to their roles, even if they don't think so?

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