Director Steve James still gets questions about how he got Roger Ebert to record narration for Life Itself. But as he always tells the audience, that isn’t really Mr. Ebert talking – it’s Stephen Stanton.
While you may not have heard of him, you’ve almost certainly heard his voice. Mr. Stanton is a renowned voice actor who has lent his talents to numerous animated television shows, games, and movies. These notably include Psychonauts, where he played Sasha Nein, and Disney XD’s The 7D, where he plays Sleepy. He also worked on Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra, where he played the Air Lion Turtle and Old Wan for “Beginnings, Part 2.”
Mr. Stanton isn’t exclusive to animation, however. His voice can be heard in live-action projects such as Parks and Recreation and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, as well. Beyond acting, he spent a portion of his career working in visual effects for films like Batman Returns, The Last of the Mohicans, and Starship Troopers.
Mr. Stanton was kind enough to sit down with me to chat about the ins and outs of his impressive career. In this interview, we discuss how he got into voice acting (:59), how voice acting differs from live-action performance (4:15), and the complicated process involved in voicing iconic Disney characters (10:58).
We also rhapsodize about his heartfelt, “bittersweet” path to voicing Roger Ebert in Life Itself (19:22). At 27:57, Mr. Stanton talks about his experience recording his part in The Legend of Korra. Finally, I ask Mr. Stanton what his thoughts are on the future of voice acting and whether the form will some day see major awards recognition (33:30).
My article on the New York City premiere of Life Itself can be found on RogerEbert.com, and my memorial article about Roger Ebert’s passing can be found here. If you are interested in more on The Legend of Korra, Movie Fail hosts a podcast entitled “Ember Island Airwaves” that airs on a weekly basis.