When I was in Junior High, I had a major crush on this guy whom I went on a Summer Camp with. Look-wise he’s quite perfect, with gorgeous dark hair and deep-set eyes. But then one day my friends and I ran into him in a parking lot. He rolled his car window down, lowered his sunglasses and the second he opened his mouth to greet us, my jaw practically dropped to the floor. He’s got this high-pitched, almost squeaky voice that I nearly burst out laughing. Suffice to say, I wasn’t so smitten by him after that, ahah.
Y’see, the point I’m trying to make is, to me a man’s voice is almost as important — if not more so — than his looks. I’d find an average looking man with a rich, deep voice far more appealing than a handsome guy with a higher-pitched voice (I’m looking at you David Beckham). Of course some guys have all the luck, like my beloved Gregory Peck who’s drop dead gorgeous AND has a rich barritone voice to die for
This list is inspired by him, an actor who can act on his voice alone, hence he was in high demand for a variety of live radio programs, such as this Anna Karenina one with his Spellbound co-star Ingrid Bergman. I think an actor’s distinct voice could actually make the movies they’re in more memorable than they otherwise would’ve been. In fact, some actors’ voice are the most memorable part about them. AMC’s filmcritic.com actually made a list ranking the top 100 movie star voices of all time, nice list apart from the exclusion of my beloved Gregory of course.
So anyway, here’s a shortlist of actors whose rich, silky voice are beautiful music to my ears. Now, all of them are talented actors to begin with, but the sound of their voice and their delivery are definitely icing on the cake. Btw, I’m not going to mention the obvious ones here like James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman, whose names are almost synonymous with ‘iconic voice.’ So anyway, here they are in no particular order:
1. Hugo Weaving
“Hello Mister Anderson.” “Remember, remember the 5th of November” Now, Mr. Weaving’s a master of acting with his voice alone. I dedicated a whole post on his face-less performance in V for Vendetta, especially in the indelible introductory monologue in the dark alley. I also hearing his monologues as Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
2. Timothy Dalton
Ok, so here’s another tall, dark beauty with an equally ravishing voice. Whether he’s Bond, Mr. Rochester, or an Errol Flynn-esque baddie in The Rocketeer, his signature deep, authoritative voice and distinct delivery is always a delight to listen in. My favorite role of his is in BBC’s 1983 Jane Eyre. That powerful voice combined with the depth of his performance as Rochester is why his portrayal remains my all-time favorite.
3. Alan Rickman
Hans Gruber, Severus Snape, Col. Brandon… these are iconic characters largely because of the way Rickman played them. Snape is the most intriguing character in Harry Potter movies for me, his singular diction with that silky voice is always a highlight in any movie. Even the simplest words like ‘indeed’ or ‘obviously’ sound so beguiling coming from Mr. Rickman’s mouth.
4. Matthew Macfadyen
I first heard his wonderful voice in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice as Mr. Darcy. I wasn’t impressed with him initially, but upon second viewing I warmed up to his performance … and that voice! In fact, his narration in that rich timbre is my favorite part of The Three Musketeer trailer. I could watch that thing over and over again just to listen to his voice!
5. Liam Neeson
Whether he’s a Jedi master, Gotham’s underground villain, a bad ass retired spy or even a Jesus figure in the form of a lion, Neeson’s Irish-tinged speech can be as commanding yet still exudes a certain warmth that’s quite soothing. His role choices may be a bit questionable of late (Battleship Liam? Really??) but his voice is always dependable.
6. Anthony Hopkins
Whether he’s threatening to eat your liver with a chianti in Silence of the Lamb or displaying utmost loyalty with mild-mannered decorum in Remains of the Day, Hopkins’ deep smooth voice always fits the character perfectly. It may not be his best work, but I love The Mask of Zorro largely because of Hopkins sensitive portrayal of Don Diego de la Vega, especially when he was teaching Antonia Banderas sword fighting as well as etiquette. His soothing voice is so indelible in that film.
7. Rufus Sewell
Talk about having the whole package… with glass-cutting cheekbones and wide, expressive eyes, I would readily reconcile myself to Rufus even if he has a less-than-ideal voice. But this gorgeous Englishman has an irresistible throaty voice to boot! Not only is his voice so sweet to the ear, it’s ever so evocative, as displayed in the 9/11: Out of the Blue poem I posted last year. The Ode to a Beautiful Nude poem clip I posted earlier was removed… so here’s the first part of the Out of the Blue four-part series:
8. Laurence Fishburne
Who could forget Morpheus’ iconic voice from The Matrix? Fishburne’s low, commanding voice has that trustworthy, regal aura about it, no wonder he’s often cast as a wise, gifted characters. He’s got a perfect voice for theater, which was where he got his start in New York. As the first black actor cast in Othello (alongside Kenneth Branagh), that voice certainly would lend itself extremely well reciting Shakespearean lines.
9. Richard Armitage
I first had the pleasure of enjoying Armitage’s magnetic performance in BBC’s North & South (see the proposal scene below). As if his dark looks weren’t swoon-worthy enough, he’s got such a deep, breathy voice to match. No wonder he’s made voice-over work his second career, lending that golden pipes of his to narrating documentaries, audiobooks, and various radio work. I LOVE The Hobbit trailer largely because Armitage gets to sing as Thorin… I sure hope he gets a ton of lines in the movie as well.
10. Patrick Stewart
One of the best things about the X-Men trilogy is the casting, particularly the two English thespians Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. No doubt McKellen’s Magneto is the juicier role but I adore Professor X as Stewart exudes such warmth and eternal wisdom in the role. The Shakespearean actor often plays authority figures, the most famous one being Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek series. Sometimes when the show was still on TV I’d often stop to just listen to him even though I’m not a Trekkie by a long shot. I wish I could find the clip of just Xavier talking but in this trailer you could hear a sampling of it.
Gerard Butler, Gabriel Byrne, Sir Ian McKellen, Russell Crowe, Ian McShane, Jeremy Irons, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hiddleston, Derek Jacobi, Sean Bean, Powers Boothe.
Well, what do you think of my picks? Do share your own favorite actors with the best voice.