I’m adding “Being George Clooney” to my Movies You Might Not Know list.
It’s a documentary from 2016, directed by Paul Mariano, about the voice actors who dub George Clooney’s parts in movies and television shows. When those productions are distributed around the world, they’re more likely to become popular if they’re released with dubbed voices instead of subtitles. So, each country has a group of locals who speak for Clooney, as well as every other actor on screen.
What’s fascinating about this is that the voices of those actors become the only ones heard — the original actor’s voice never appears — which creates a problem sometimes. For instance, in “The Godfather, Part II,” Robert DeNiro did some of his lines as young Vito Corleone in Italian. But when Italians saw the movie in their neighborhood theaters, they didn’t understand — not because DeNiro was mispronouncing the words, but because they’d never heard that voice come out of his face before. Whenever they’d seen DeNiro on screen, they heard the voice of Ferruccio Amendola, the actor who dubbed his lines (and those of Al Pacino, Sly Stallone, Dustin Hoffman, and others) until his death in 2001.
In Clooney’s case, his voice is dubbed by, for example, a German actor, a Brazilian ER doctor, and a Japanese author of children’s books. “Being George Clooney” introduces us to a husband and wife who dubbed Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer for “One Fine Day,” a young woman in Germany who dubbed all of Hermione’s dialogue in the Harry Potter flicks yet has never met Emma Watson, and many others.
The dubbers are all actors who not only have to perform their parts, but often have to squeeze in more words in their language to convey the same message while matching the lips of the English-speaking Hollywood star and still stop talking at the same time. Some of them get to do the same actor’s voice throughout their entire career, while others dub multiple roles in the same productions. In return, they’re not paid much and get no credit — until now.
“Being George Clooney” does for voice dubbers what “Twenty Feet From Stardom” did for backup singers. I really enjoyed it and strongly recommend you check it out (streaming now on Netflix).