Hunter Phoenix is the quintessential example of a ‘triple threat’ in the entertainment industry. A career actress and model the stunning Ms. Phoenix is not only beautiful, but notablys recognizable for her on-camera work. What few people know is that Hunter is also a highly trained sought-after voiceover actor with hundreds of credits to her name. She has spent more than 15 years voicing everything from animated animals to exercise videos. She can be heard as the voice of Disney Live Productions, Runner’s World Magazine, Benajmin-Moore Paints and more. She has created dozens of lovable animated characters voices including Blubb, a small flying creature in Through The Misty Mountains, Xayide in The Feeling Stones and Atilla in Mother Goose and Grim. But today we are talking to Hunter’s about two of her newest and most challenging projects, voice dubbing multiple characters in the epic Netflix Series ‘Babylon Berlin” and the Japanese shōnen manga series Fullmetal Alchemist, also on Netflix.
As an actress and model, did you get started in voice acting?
Voice acting for me was part of the evolution of my career overall. As an actress, at one point I decided to delve into intensive vocal training as a way to connect text to emotion on a deeper level; it was improving my craft and my range as an artist. The opportunity came up to take a 3 month course in voiceovers and I thought I’d give it a try. I was terrible at commercials for a long time, but took off with animation! One day I was goofing around with a friend of mine doing character voices and he was cracking up! He was a DJ at a big radio station and told me I had to come in and record a voice demo. I didn’t want to at first but he really pushed me. He then mentored me for years and kept me moving forward.
How many voice acting projects have you done over the course of your career?
Literally hundreds! It may not seem possible but you actually start to forget. When you’re sometimes recording 2-3 projects per day, which I was for a while, you just can’t possibly remember all of them. Several times I’ve had friends or family say to me “Oh I heard your voice recently. You did……” Lol! I’ve even argued with them because I really didn’t remember only to have them play it for me at a later date and suddenly it comes back to me. Once it was an audio engineer I use to work with all the time and we had recorded a project for an airline in-flight announcement; both of us had forgotten about it until he heard it while he was onboard one day. Another time it was my mom who played a recording back for me and I realized that I had actually recorded it at her house with my portable set-up while I was visiting!
You recently did some voice dubbing on two Netflix series Babylon Berlin and FullMetal Alchemist – how did you get involved in those projects?
Like everything else, I just auditioned. But I have a special talent for ADR or voice dubbing. First, I have got excellent timing – it’s crucial to get every syllable and sound to match that of the original recording and actress playing the on-screen part. And secondly, I have an uncanny ability to mimic people’s voices, including the tone, the pacing as well as the feeling and the emotion behind the words. And because I can do this for multiple characters, it makes me very valuable for this type of project.
It must be hard to voice multiple characters and keep them all straight; how do you manage it?
It’s actually not that bad. Even when doing animation you still have a visual, and every character has their own personality. Just to look at someone you get a feel for what the should sound like; watch their expressions and the action of the scene. I was also fortunate enough to work an amazing director on both projects – the director is really the one who keeps you consistent, guides you and keep you in line with the character.
Did you know how great of a show you were getting involved in when you first auditioned for Babylon Berlin?
Well, it was all pretty hush hush because it hadn’t been released yet. I had to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) just to audition. I was told it was an absolutely epic production -biggest foreign-language series ever produced anywhere in the world, that’s huge! But of course you really don’t get the scope of the project until you see it on screen.
What were you most psyched about stepping into this project?
I think it was just to be a part of something like this, it’s TV history in the making! This series has been wildly commercially successful so it has really set the bar moving forward. Because it was originally a foreign language production and has gone on to become a huge commercial success not only in Europe, but also here in the U.S., it’s really breaking barriers for foreign language series and how we view them. Everyone who participated in this has something to be proud of!
Will there be another season and will you be back?
Yes!! Season Three was just announced recently, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be back, but that could be another six months to a year before they’re ready for us. A couple of my characters did get killed off, but you never know, there are always going to be new characters that come along.
Finally, what’s next for you in your career?
It’s always hard to say. Sometimes you record things, voice or on-camera and the project just never goes anywhere or never get’s completed, and other times something comes out of left field and surprises you. Of course we all have things on the go and work lined up but it’s just waiting to see what is really going to click. Lol! I think a lot of people in this business are gamblers and adrenaline junkies – we thrive on the change the uncertainty and the hope that the next one will hit it out of the park!