During the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the new documentary, “Life Itself,” based on the memoir by Pulitzer Prize-winning and film critic opened in limited release in theatres around the country. Directed by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) along with executive producers Martin Scorsese (“The Departed”) and Steven Zaillian, it’s no surprise that “Life Itself” is receiving rave reviews and early Oscar buzz! The doc made its rounds at this year’s Sundance and Cannes film festivals before heading into theatres during the holiday weekend. Distributed by Magnolia Pictures, it’s also available On Demand as well as various digital platforms, including Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.
To watch the trailer of “Life Itself,” visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4SgwBRq-fU
In his biggest voice role ever, voice actor Stephen Stanton takes on the distinctive voice of the beloved film critic in the doc, putting a spotlight on his talent as the “memoir voice” of Roger Ebert.” With his voice, Stanton captures the audio nuances of Ebert’s distinctive delivery, which brings his memoirs to life on the big screen. Several months after the death of Ebert, Stanton was handpicked by Ebert’s widow, Chaz, and the director, to offer his vocal abilities to this passion project.
For a behind-the-scenes look at Stephen’s work on “Life Itself,” visit http://vimeo.com/89745023
Stanton is one of the top voice actors in the entertainment business, lending his talents as a voice actor in the categories of animation, television series, feature films and “voice-matching”. He’s also served as a “voice double” for a string of A-list actors over the last decade.
To hear a small sample of some of the celebrity voices he does, visit https://vimeo.com/98579204
On the small screen, Stanton’s voice is also recognizable to audiences as Peter Cushing's Wilhuf Tarkin on the tv series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” He's also worked on many other shows including “Archer,” “King of the Hill” and “Family Guy.” Next up: he takes on the voice of Sleepy in Disney’s newest TV series, “The 7D,” set to premiere on July 7, 2014. For more about Stephen, visit www.stephenstanton.com
THE TOP FIVE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT VOICE ACTOR STEPHEN STANTON AND HIS WORK ON “LIFE ITSELF:”
- Are you an impressionist?
No, I’m a voice actor. Just like an on-camera actor or actress, I’m acting but in a different way, using my only tool – that is, my voice.
- As a voice actor, how is your work different from an on-camera actor?
An on-camera actor uses a variety of tools to act, such as his or her physical body for mannerisms and expressions; costumes; lighting and the set. I use my voice and “theatre of the mind” to emote and convey all those expressions to make a character real.
- How did you prepare for the “memoir voice” of Roger Ebert for the documentary “Life Itself?”
Well, I read the book and I had the script, along with a rough cut of the film. Also, I listened to plenty of tape of Roger talking, which allowed me to capture his tone, pitch, inflections and the rhythm of his voice. As I began preparing for the audio, I read the script aloud, making the vocal changes in my voice. One of my little tricks in doing any person or character is: I like to picture the person’s body movements, gestures and expressions in my mind as I’m working.
- Were there any special considerations you had to make in creating the “memoir voice?”
The director, Steve James, was very specific about how he wanted the “memoir voice” to sound in the documentary. He didn’t want the “memoir voice” to sound like Roger giving a presentation or doing a critic of a movie on television; instead, he wanted a more personal voice, like he’s speaking to someone one-on-one.
- Were you nervous to take on the “memoir voice” of Roger Ebert?
Absolutely! For me, Roger is not a character – like my work in animation -- but instead a real person with a very distinctive voice. Plus, in working on the documentary, I’m reading words that he’s never spoken before publicly. So, the pressure was on.
ABOUT LIFE ITSELF | movie synopsis
“Life Itself” (US/Narrative Feature/118 min)
Director: Steve James
“Life Itself” recounts the surprising and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert -- a story that's by turns personal, wistful, funny, painful, and transcendent. The film explores the impact and legacy of Roger Ebert's life from his Pulitzer Prize-winning work in film criticism and his nearly 25-year run with Gene Siskel on their national film review show to becoming one of the country's most influential cultural voices. The doc also features Ebert's inspiring battles with cancer and the resulting physical disability, and how he literally and symbolically put a new face on the disease and continued to be a cultural force despite it. “Life Itself” is directed by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) along with executive producers Martin Scorsese (“The Departed”) and Steven Zaillian.