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Voice acting can be a real challenge for a performer. While the live-action realm allows you to use your full body and expressions to get across emotion and personality, there is a special challenge in bringing a character to life just with the sound of your voice. This was something that Matthew McConaughey recently had to face in the making of the upcoming stop-motion animated film Kubo And The Two Strings, but he found his own little tricks to make sure his turn would be entirely authentic. For example, in one particular scene where his character, Beetle, had to sound wiped out and exhausted, he actually went as far as to start doing a crazy number of push-ups on the floor of his recording booth.
Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of venturing up to Portland, Oregon to visit Laika Studios and the set of Kubo And The Two Strings with a small group of other film journalists, and it was while talking with director/producer/animator Travis Knight that we learned about one particular way Matthew McConaughey insured that his performance was as believable as possible. Discussing his experience working with actors as a first time director, Knight told us all about one instance in the recording studio that left him completely impressed with the Oscar winner's commitment to the part:
There was scene where we had the Beetle character, he really exerting himself and he had to have that kind of quality in his voice and his breathing. And so Matthew, he was in the booth and he disappeared, and I was like, 'Where'd he go?' I stood up and I look over and he's on the ground cranking out an inhuman amount of push-ups, just to get his breathing and his voice in a certain way. It's one way they can get those qualities out of their voice, when they're not actually in that moment. So, it's just really interesting to see those aspects of their process in the performance.
As mentioned, in Kubo And The Two Strings Matthew McConaughey plays the role of Beetle -- a brave, odd warrior who helps the titular character in his quest -- and given the amount of action he finds himself thrust into, it's none too surprising that certain scenes required him to be just a bit out of breath. That being said, the actor's push-up approach also says something about his work as a performer, as the movie represents his first time voicing an animated character in a movie (his only other experience being an episode of King Of The Hill). His personal instincts told him what was required to get the scene perfectly right, and without instruction from his director, he went about his own method of getting it done.
From the trailers we've seen for Kubo And The Two Strings, Matthew McConaughey's performance looks like it may be a real stand-out, and we can't wait to see Beetle fully fleshed out. Fortunately, we won't have to wait much longer, as the brand new Laika film will be in theaters next month, on August 19th.