When Tom Hanks can’t make it back to the studio to redo a line, what do the producers do? Well, hire a sound alike, of course!
Being a professional Sound Alike falls in the territory between celebrity impersonators and the real thing. Different altogether from traditional character voices, sound alikes have the incredible task of recreating the voice and vocal mannerisms of another person… not to be someone who kind of sounds like a celebrity, but to produce an indistinguishable vocal likeness.
Why are sound alikes perceived to be the actual person they are mimicking?
Whenever you hear a sound alike recreate a famous persons’ voice, you recognize and trust its authenticity, not simply based upon the total sum of their vocal qualities, but on the distinct similarities between the two voices. For instance, if a sound alike for British Prime Minister Tony Blair were to address the public via radio, a listener in the United Kingdom would perceive the information delivered by the sound alike to be true, recognizing the voice that they hear to be both familiar and authoritative.
You can think of a professional sound alike as an understudy. An understudy is a person who is assigned to a role as a backup for the lead actor, or in our case, voice actor. For instance, if Tom Hanks was on vacation and unable to attend the recording session, a Tom Hanks sound alike would stand in to record the dialog for him.
There is a large market for sound alikes, including duplicating the voices of working celebrities, media personalities, and even replicating the voices of those who have left us, including Elvis Presley, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, John Wayne, Marlon Brando and so on.
Sound alikes have also entered into the field of music, manifesting themselves in tribute artists for popular bands and solo singers in local dance halls, stadiums, and on the big screen. In the recent movie “Walk the Line“, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are featured in the lead roles, portraying Johnny Cash and June Carter in both a visual sense and in a vocal capacity.
The most famous sound alikes are so good at what they do that you will never know that ‘they’ are not the real McCoy. These people are nearly always working behind the scenes, which makes their performance even more convincing, if done well.
Are you a sound alike? Leave a comment on the blog and mention whose voice (or multiple voices) you perform.