Ryan Kwanten and Jim Sturgess are a Hoot!
Kidzworld takes flight with the hot lead owls of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. Cute Aussie Ryan Kwanten and Brit Jim Sturgess are the voices of the warring owl brothers Kludd and Soren in the new animated adventure movie that’s based on Kathryn Lasky’s book series!
We sat down with the "bros" in L.A. to find out how they reacted to seeing their voices coming out of owl beaks! Ryan and Jim also told us about the sibling rivalry in their lives and how animation influenced them as kids. Would they voice an animated character again after this experience? Read our interview to find out!
Kidzworld: Ryan and Jim, do you have brothers and is there a rivalry between you as there is in the film? Or was there one when you were younger?
- Jim: I have an older brother and a younger sister so I'm the middle child. Yeah, and like [my owl character] Soren, I'm far more courageous than my siblings. I'm better looking, a better flier. No, me and my brother get along really well so we don't have that kind of rivalry.
- Ryan: I am, actually, an older brother. And, like Kludd, I too suffer from what I have diagnosed as OSS, which is Older Sibling Syndrome, where you feel the need to set a fine example and you don't necessarily posses the natural gifts of your younger brothers. I know I didn't and Kludd certainly doesn't. I think the older brothers too suffer from the need to be overly-ambitious. I try and use that for good. Kludd, on the other hand, was easily persuaded to the darker side.
Kidzworld: Do you see an advantage in voice acting over live action acting?
- Ryan: Yeah. Usually [in live action] you're hindered by maybe you're losing light [on an outdoor set] and you didn't grab your prop on the right line. There's all sorts of things that hinder us but to be given that freedom [of the director saying], “You know what? Just try it again 16 different ways and let's see what pops” [is great.]
Kidzworld: They also video your movements while you are recording the voices though, you know.
- Ryan: [Laughs] I never want to see those tapes.
Kidzworld: Jim, you really wanted to do a voice for animation. What cartoons did you grow up watching and what is the difference in the stuff you used to watch and this film?
- Jim: Just like any kid, you just always wanted to be the voice of a cartoon character. It would just be a cool thing to do. I was in love with a film called Watership Down. That was a huge part of my life as a kid growing up. As I get older, the animation has just been getting more and more exciting and more possibility is going to come in with that.
Kidzworld: This is your first voice for an animated character. Why choose this one?
- Jim: I've nearly had the chance to do a few animated characters so when this came up, it was just ticking every single box that I'd ever dreamed about. The story was epic in every way then they sent me this book of how the animation was going to look and the characters' back stories and different designs for the claws and the weaponry and the shields and the masks.
- I was just taken in by this whole world that they'd already created before I ever got anywhere near to being involved. It's just fun to hear your voice (come out of) this beautifully-designed character. It was such an exciting film to watch. It's this whole fantasy world and it's a real buzz and a thrill. That's your voice behind that little owl's face.
Kidzworld: Ryan, what animation did you watch as a kid?
- Ryan: Well, it was three boys at home and it was easier for us to be dealt with outside the house than inside. So we were forced to use our imaginations and play outside. We must have come up with 20 or 30 different games using our imaginations, just taking over our backyard and the neighborhood. Our neighbors were well and truly versed in our mad ways. We'd be running through with masks, diving over hedges; all sorts of things. So it was pretty much games inside my head. I wasn't much of a TV animation junkie growing up.
Kidzworld: You didn't watch a lot of TV but was there an animated feature film that made a big impression on you as a kid or teen?
- Ryan: I always liked Who Framed Roger Rabbit. When you amalgamate the live action and the animation – that transcended everything else I saw then. I was between 10 and 13 I think.
Kidzworld: Jim, how did you go about approaching the voice of Soren, your first animated character?
- Jim: When I first found out that I'd got the part, I went onto my computer and started to practice different things with the voice and I did it with a program called "Garage Band." Obviously, trying to get an Australian accent was the first thing I had to do [Ryan chuckles cause he is Australian]. I thought that without the use of your eyes and face, “Oh, I'm really going to have to amp up my voice and really try and make it as expressive as possible.” So, I kind of overdid it. Then when we came to do our first recording session, I was like, “OK, I've got the character down. I'm going to overplay it I guess.”
Kidzworld: Did somebody change your mind about that?
- Jim: Yeah. I was forgetting that these incredible animators would put in the eyes and all these expressions so I really kind of overdid it at first and had to draw myself back and remember that there would be an acting performance and these incredible animators would do that for me really. So, once I understood that, I could just play it as you would if you were just making a film.
- I saw the film last night for the first time and I couldn't believe the expressions they were able to put on these owls' faces, to put the comedy in just by a look; the intensity in the eyes. It just blew my mind.
Kidzworld: Ryan, what attracted you to your character Kludd?
- Ryan: What was a really appealing thing for me is that he starts off as this misunderstood, misguided owl and it's this one single decision that changes the course of his life and that tells more about who he is than the whole lifetime of moments before; how he chooses to react in that moment. [Kludd chooses the Dark Side.]
Kidzworld: We were impressed at the amazing artistry of this film all around.
- Ryan: You can tell all that love, too, when you watch it.
Kidzworld: Ryan, did you go in on your time off from True Blood and record the voice? When you did, was it a relief from the action on True Blood to use just your voice?
- Ryan: Yes, it was a nice escape but this was also incredibly hard; the amount of times that I left the three hour recording sessions with sweat pouring off because you're doing all the huffing an puffing and the flying. I'm sure you did it too, Jim [Jim nods and Ryan flaps his arms like owl wings]. Various levels of exertion, too. There's the happy, joyful exertion and then more exasperation then Kludd being not so eloquent with the way he flies. So, there weren't too many times when I left with an abundance of energy after. But it was a nice relief from playing Jason. I love playing that character but when I'm not shooting, that's the last thing I want to dive into.
Kidzworld: I don't know about Jason but Kludd could be interpreted as evil.
- Ryan: Hey!! Hey!
Kidzworld: OK, misunderstood.
- Ryan: Thank you.
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