Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Thanks to Sienna Guillory who tweeted The Last Belle website yesterday, live from the set of her latest movie 'Resident Evil: Retribution'.

Sienna Guillory, who performs the voice
of Rosie in The Last Belle.
I became aware of Sienna's work back in 2000 when she starred in the brilliant BBC adaptation of Kingsley Amis' 'Take A Girl Like You' (still inexplicably unavailable on DVD... come on, BBC). Since then I have watched her appear, chameleon-like, in an amazing variety of roles, starring in mega-budget action films, micro-budget short films, historical drama, futuristic drama, comedy, episodic television, theatre.... and now our animated cartoon. Or, as Sienna describes herself at the top of her tweets: "Sometime school teacher, assassin, elf warrior, stripper, zombie killer, robot... Full time mother of twins."

It's amazing how versatile modern actors have to be, navigating all the modern technology of a movie set, as well as green screen, virtual sets, invisible co-stars who won't be added until post-production, performance capture technology, and goodness knows what else. And in the case of voice recording for animation there's almost nothing to work with, except a small soundproof room, a microphone, and lots of imagination.

I don't think anyone realises just how hard it is to act under these circumstances until they try it themselves. Case in point: during the recordings for Last Belle I would occasionally step into the recording booth to feed ('off camera') lines for the actor to respond to. When our editor Ivan Naisbitt cut all the dialogue together he made an additional little treat for me: a whole tape where he cut out all the actor's proper lines and kept in just the stuff of me feeding lines 'off camera'. Now, I knew I'd never make it as an actor, but nothing could have prepared me for just how excruciating my 'performance' was! The whole editing department fell about laughing while I tried to hide in a corner. And from that moment to this I've been very happy to disguise myself behind pencil and paper characters and vent all my performing urges through them. Animation is a great way of showing off to an audience while actually hiding behind a drawing board in the attic. Suits me.

I lived with these character voices for several years (Aaaagh - the voices in my head! ) as we slowly pieced The Last Belle together frame by frame, and remained inspired by the performances throughout - thanks to Sienna, Amanda Donohoe and Colin McFarlane who are all (unlike me) wonderfully versatile actors.

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