Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Astro Voice Talent Is Tops

And yet more big news on the CGI animated Astro Boy movie rolls in. Sci Fi Wire strikes again with a great article that has quotes from director David Bowers, who talks about how the appeal of the story has brought together the incredible voice cast that they've assembled for the film. Also, a few cast members have been revealed as to which characters they will be playing.

Nicolas Cage is once again confirmed to be playing Dr. Tenma, Astro's creator. And it seems at this point that the character will indeed be named Dr. Tenma, not Dr. Tanner as has been previously stated.

Bill Nighy is Dr. Elefun (Dr. Ochanomizu in Japanese), the kindly head of the Ministry of Science with curly white hair and a giant nose.


Nathan Lane is HamEgg, the crooked circus owner. Absolutely brilliant casting on that one!

There's also a mention on how these actors are adding their own personal touches to the dialoge via improvisation. Read the article for yourself on Sci Fi Wire. A copy is also being kept here for posterity at the link below.

12:00 AM, 08-JULY-08

Astro Voice Talent Is Tops

David Bowers, who is directing the upcoming animated feature Astro Boy, told SCI FI Wire that the appeal of the original manga and comic-book series helped attract big-name actors such as Nicolas Cage to the project.

"A guy like Nicolas Cage, he's a big comic-book fan anyway, as everybody knows, but he does like Astro Boy," Bowers said in an interview at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles on July 5. "He's a big fan of Astro Boy. He brings such a lot to the role."

In the new film, Cage provides the voice of Dr. Tenma, a scientist who loses his son and creates a robot, Astro Boy (voiced by Freddie Highmore), to replace him. In the original 1950s manga and subsequent 1960s anime TV series, Astro Boy is rejected by his creator and left to fend for himself in the world. Bowers said that his version will be a bit lighter in tone and more forgiving of Dr. Tenma's actions.

"We have a slightly more sympathetic look at Dr. Tenma in this movie," he said. "[Cage has] given a wonderful performance. I think your heart breaks for him. At the same time, there's a lot of comedy in the manga as well. We have Nathan Lane as HamEgg and Bill Nighy playing Dr. Elefun, and he's terrific in it. And we have a lot of new characters as well. We have a lot of very fun robots. I think there's a lot of comedy in the movie. But, again, it's a very emotional story."

Bowers, a former animator who made his directorial debut in 2006 with the computer-animated feature Flushed Away, said that he was able to get his first choice when casting the film's main roles thanks to a strong script.

"I always want to get the best actors for the roles that I can get," Bowers said. "And I've been very fortunate on Astro Boy that everyone we've approached has agreed. They're all a little dubious at first. They all want to read the script. And they read the script, and they're really keen. They love it, and they want to come on board. So it's very encouraging."

It's also important, Bowers added, that the actors feel free to diverge from the script in their performances.

"I try to be a little free with the script and sort of encourage the actors to bring as much to the role as they can," Bowers said. "So when you have people like Nick and Bill Nighy and Freddie, they come with so much experience and talent, you don't want to hem them in. So my instinct is just to let them go and offer suggestions and push it as far as I can and then try bringing it back. It's interesting. We have time to play around with it a little as well." Astro Boy is set for release in the fall of 2009. --Cindy White