DreamWorks Animation’s Abominable captured the hearts of many through its beautiful animation and heartwarming story. Now the film will be available for you to own on Blu-ray this December 17, 2019. In it, Yi (Chloe Bennet) goes on an adventure of a lifetime when she befriends a young Yeti (Joseph Izzo) and helps reunite him with his family at the peak of Mount Everest. She and her new furry friend make the perilous journey across China, they will encounter a dangerous industrialist and a nefarious zoologist who wants to capture the yeti for their own selfish reasons.
Though there is some great character work between Bennet and her fellow castmates Albert Tsai and Tenzing Norgay, a big part of what made the film so great came from Izzo’s voicework as Everest. It’s hard to believe that Izzo didn’t have any voice roles before coming on board to his project. The production coordinator was working on other projects like Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, and even It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
ThatsItLA had a chance to talk to the actor in a small roundtable interview over at DreamWorks Studios in Burbank, CA, where he talked about what drew him to the role and how he created the unique voice of Everest.
In 2013, as a production supervisor at Dreamworks, Izzo came across the script and immediately wanted to be a part of it. While helping to manage the artists and collaborating with the director, Izzo did some of the scratch voices (the temporary voice work before the real talent comes in) for Everest.
“I can’t help and look at Everest, and feel like, to me, he symbolizes all the things that are just good, just good. There’s no conflict,” Izzo said. “It’s almost looking at something like nature, like in a sense how you respect things that no one understands and has been around. It’s beautiful.”
In the creation of the voice, Izzo knew that Everest needed to have a deeper voice that would be suited for a Yeti with a big chest cavity and giant mouth. “We spent a load of time – it was fun actually – we would bring stuff from home and try to make little tools wondering ‘what would it sound like if we did this,” Izzo said. “The one thing that stuck was this, a flower vase that was on the desk. So we wrapped it up with tape. It had a perfect echo to it.”
Izzo said he discovered the voice further along the recording process when the animation was closer to being finished. “When it was further animated and you could see the shots, you could really play along with the action, that really helped,” he said. “The great thing about voice acting is that you could do as many takes as you need to. You could keep trying and trying and you could hear it right away.”
Because Izzo did not get a chance to record with the main cast, director Jill Culton was right beside him during the entire process, which he would describe as fun and playful, but also serious when the character had to be vulnerable and silly. “My goal was to make her laugh after every take,” he said. “She’s a giggler. So you knew when you had it.”
But he also says that the recording process can be intimidating because of the size of the room and 15 other people watching him. However, he found comfort in just turning off and trusting Culton and the process.
Having a history working in production also helped with some of the character work for Everest. “The character design and the drawing of the character made it easier to act too. His faces are so emotive, so you knew what to had to make it sound like,” Izzo said “I think it helped me because I worked so closely with the director [Jill Culton] and knew the character so well. I was just so involved with the project. I knew Jill [Culton] so well that we had a shorthand with each other. She can give me a look and I know what she is asking for.”
And working in production is a serious business, but getting a chance to do some “silly voices” was too hard to pass up. When asked if he would do more voices, Izzo said, “I totally take on more voices.”
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