Published December 28, 2012
LOS ANGELES – Funnyman Chris Rock wasn't kidding when he presented the 2012 Oscar for Best Animation and said: "An actor who does voice over for an animated film only has to show up, step inside the booth, be fed his lines and then recite them back… and then they give me a million dollars!”
A-list stars can indeed earn millions of dollars for voicing a big-budget studio movie – just ask Mike Meyers who reportedly reeled in about $108,000 per minute he worked on “Shrek,” while co-stars Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy followed suit, commanding upwards of $10 million to reprise their roles in the hit DreamWorks series. Owen Wilson is said to have scooped $2.5 million to return for “Cars 2,” while Angelina Jolie banked a quick million for her work in “Kung Fu Panda.”
Which is why it is not surprising that voice over jobs are highly sought after in Hollywood. So much so, however, that A-listers are flooding the market.
“There was once a time when unknown actors could play leading Disney princes and princesses. That is not the case anymore. [Studios] want to sell their films with the names,” said voice actress Natasha Charles Parker. “The same goes for commercials. Sometimes they too want a recognizable voice. So the competition is definitely tough, tougher than it was before I entered the industry.”
These days, studio executives want to give their dollars to already-established names in an effort to ensure a bigger bottom line, celebrity vocal coach Ilana Martin told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. And she says name actors get more from the gigs than just cold hard cash.
“Being behind the scenes as a voice talent gives the actor an opportunity to expand their brand, draw upon other talents and grow overall as a recognizable celebrity,” celebrity vocal coach Ilana Martin told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “Particularly for actors who want a break from the spotlight, this provides opportunity for them to still make income, and expand their network of film producers with whom they have a chance to work and create art.”
And there are other draws to doing voice over work according to Bradford Bricken, who has worked with numerous celebrities on voice-related projects. He said stars enjoy “the pride of working on something their children love.”
But Bricken says there are plenty of voice over jobs to go around, for the A-list and non-famous alike. He says actors aren’t just being commissioned to lend their voices to commercials and animated movies, there are voice over roles for audio books, talking toys and video games too.
“This is an area that is continuing to expand, and we’ll see a large expansion on the lower end, providing more opportunities but for less money,” Bricken said.
But apparently not everyone is satisfied with getting big bucks for little work.
Hugo Weaving, who provided the Megatron voice in the multi-billion dollar “Transformers” franchise, reportedly called his performance “meaningless,” declaring that “it was one of the only things I’ve ever done where I had no knowledge of it. I didn’t care about it."
That didn't sit well with director Michael Bay.
“Do you ever get sick of actors that make $15 million a picture, or even $200,000 for voiceover work that took a brisk one hour and 43 minutes to complete, and then complain about their jobs?" Bay wrote in a blog post. "With all the problems facing our world today, do these grumbling thespians really think people reading the news actually care about trivial complaints and their job isn’t 'artistic enough' or 'fulfilling enough'?"
Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report