Voice Acting

Some Tips For Celebrity Voice Matching

Has anyone ever told you that you sound like a celebrity?

Can you imitate famous cartoon characters?

In today’s VOX Daily, we’ll take a look at some factors that play into voice matching and discover a couple of resources specific to the art of voice matching and imitation.

Celebrity Voice Matching

Sounding like someone else, whether it’s a celebrity or a fictional character, can be a lucrative line of work. Not every celebrity has time to record smaller jobs for characters they have voiced.

With all of the opportunities out there in ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement), video game voice acting, GPS voice overs, ring tones, talking toys and more, it pays to have a talent for imitation and voice matching.
Being a sound alike or doing a voice match can be tricky. That being said, some voice matches are more complex than others.

Factors To Consider When Voice Matching

Some factors you need to take into account when doing a proper voice match include:

  • Voice type
  • Age
  • Register
  • Timbre
  • Accent
  • Intonation
  • Speaking patterns
  • Mannerisms
  • Placement
  • Physicality


If you find that you have a similar voice type and are around the same age as someone, try and see if you can do their voice.
If you “kind of” sound like a celebrity, listen to their voice and study their speech patterns, vocal characteristics, and mannerisms. When you add those to the mix, you can get an even closer match based upon more than just the quality and range of a voice.

Inspiration and Resources

Character voice master Pat Fraley has shared a wonderful resource that you can listen to online about voice matching. Pat has done a lot of this kind of work including serving as the voice match for Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story II. Learn more about voice matching from Pat Fraley in this free podcast here:
Voice Matching and Imitating Voices

Morgan Freeman sound alike, Larry Davis is someone you should know about. He’s hired to record Morgan Freeman-style voice overs on a regular basis.

Something we ought to acknowledge is that doing a voice match doesn’t just mean being able to do signature phrases in the style of a person or character. You’ve got to be able to speak as that character for the duration, regardless of copy or anything else. One way that Larry is able to get into his Morgan Freeman voice is to start with a particular phrase. Once he has said that phrase, he is able to change gears completely and maintain the voice match.
Here’s an interview with Larry Davis following the VOICE 2010 conference:
Interview with Morgan Freeman Sound Alike, Larry Davis

What’s The Hardest Celebrity Voice To Match?

If you had to pick just 3, which do you think are the most difficult celebrity voice matches to do? Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best wishes,
©iStockphoto.com/Gary Martin

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  • Avatar for Herb Merriweather
    Herb Merriweather
    November 18, 2010, 1:10 pm

    James Earl Jones (diction and cadence), Morgan Freeman (Wise, not elderly) and Bart Simpson (for obvious reasons)…

  • Avatar for Ashley C Jones
    Ashley C Jones
    November 18, 2010, 1:11 pm

    Lily Allen

  • Avatar for Daniel D
    Daniel D'Elia
    November 18, 2010, 1:12 pm

    Ben Affleck, Harrison Ford, and Nicolas Cage.

  • Avatar for Roy Bunales
    Roy Bunales
    November 18, 2010, 2:32 pm

    I’ve have been hired on more than a few occassions to sound like Sam Elliot meets Lee Van Cleef mixed with a bit of Mike Rowe.

  • Avatar for Captain Snark
    Captain Snark
    November 18, 2010, 4:56 pm

    To what extent is a celebrity’s legal right to publicity a factor here?

  • Avatar for John Taylor
    John Taylor
    November 19, 2010, 4:32 am

    I book things that sound sorta like other things. Sorta Antonio Banderas, Sorta Sam Elliott, Sorta Dennis Leary…I book.
    But voice MATCH is a whole different ballgame. Once I was called to Warner Bros to audition to match Chris Cooper. After a weekend of YouTube immersion, and “channeling” Mr. Cooper in every word I uttered, I arrived at building 51 on the WB lot in Burbank. I was shown to a room filled with Chris Coopers and Tommy Lee Jones-es. One by one the Tommy Lees filed in to read. Then all the Chris Coopers were called as a group. We were informed that none of the Tommys were cutting the mustard and were offered a chance on the spot to read for Tommy Lee. We all did. One of the Chris-es got it. Then all the Chris-es filed in one by one to read the Cooper part. A different member of the Chris Cooper group got that one. Both Coops recorded on the spot…replaced the dialog in 5 minutes. For those of us who did NOT get a voice match part, It was a long walk past 27 sound stages filled with people who GOT the job and were working. Moral of the story? Do your homework! Be an EXCELLENT cold reader, TO PICTURE, in ONE TAKE. (they don’t send movie scripts out in advance to auditioning ADR folks usually) ….and finally STEP UP and TRY if you’re asked….you just might be good enough. The guy who walked home with the Tommy Lee Jones money had no idea he would be reading for that.

  • Avatar for Stephanie Ciccarelli
    Stephanie Ciccarelli
    November 19, 2010, 9:55 am

    Hi Captain Snark,
    First off, I’m not a lawyer so what I’m sharing here is my own opinion and isn’t to be taken as legal advice.
    If the studio is asking a voice talent to do work voice matching that the celebrity has turned down, there is no issue with this. The celebrity would be making a decision to not take the work, whether this falls into the categories of:
    1) They have no time / are unavailable,
    2) They don’t want to do it or
    3) They don’t want to work within the producer’s budget and leave the work on the table for a voice match.
    In the instances of someone going ahead without the permission of the celebrity and their representation, you may run into legal issues. Should the work be for a sound alike or voice match, the celebrity should have the first right of refusal. In effect, this is work that they could be doing because it calls specifically for their voice, personality, delivery, etc. Essentially, it calls for what they bring to the table in their capacity as both talent and celebrity. Their voice, brand and persona are their Intellectual Property so to speak and if anyone is going to be doing their work, it falls to them first to do it or decline it in favour of someone else who can voice match.
    Where it can get a bit hazy is if a producer references a celebrity as the example of the voice type they are looking for, for instance saying that they want someone who kind of sounds like or has similar vocal characteristics as that person. Finding someone with similar vocal qualities is different but again, you have to be careful.
    I hope that helps.
    Any other thoughts on this?
    Best wishes,

  • Avatar for Captain Snark
    Captain Snark
    November 19, 2010, 11:13 am

    Thanks, Stephanie,
    I’m not a lawyer, either. I think that under US law, at least (which varies from state to state, as there’s no US federal law on right to publicity), there’s no problem as long as a listener wouldn’t actually mistake the voice artist’s work for being that of the celebrity in question. In other words, if a ‘reasonable person’ would hear it as being ‘like’ Sam Elliott, or ‘similar’ to Sam Elliott I doubt there’s a problem. If on the other hand, it were in fact a close enough match that a reasonable person might think that the work was actually voiced by Sam Elliott, there’s potentially a problem. Sam Elliott controls his right to publicity, as I understand it. Now, even here, it’s complicated in that there are different standards applied not only from state to state but depending on the purpose of the work. Leeway is allowed under free speech for political speech, review, commentary, etc. The standard is toughest, though, for commercial exploitation. If someone wants you to match Sam Elliott to sell their product, and if a reasonable person would think that it was actually Sam Elliott selling the commercial product, in my understanding there’s potentially a problem. Whether or not as a practical matter you’re going to be sued for voicing Sam Elliott for an advert for a tiny diner in the middle of nowhere is one thing, but if it’s more visible, it may be another. As I say, I’m not a lawyer, but that’s my understanding of the rules of the game under US law, at least.

  • Avatar for Adam
    August 4, 2013, 3:48 pm

    Homer Simpson, Bart Simpson and Nicolas Cage