Keith Scott: Down Under's Voice Over Marvel
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SL: What was the process of recording the voice for Bullwinkle?

Scott treasured the chance to work with the likes of Robert DeNiro. © 2000 Universal Studios. All Right Reserved.

KS: We did a pre-record of all the character lines, but really I traveled with the movie for the whole shoot. The director wanted me to do that because Charlie Fleischer, who did Roger Rabbit, had proved that to be on the set was a viable way of doing it for timing purposes, if you're going to marry three-dimensional animation with live actors eventually. So I was there with the script everyday, standing on the side of a road when we were on location, or at Universal on the sound stage, just being Bullwinkle. It was weird. It's such an integral part of the movie and I'm getting all these huge scenes with people who I never thought I'd work with like Robert DeNiro. They also found, not that it was part of the original deal, that they had to get me there on all the days so that I could also read the narrator's pieces. That gave them an idea of how long the shot would run, because the whole movie is driven by narration. So that was the role that I had. Originally I had always assumed it was just going to be a recording session, maybe a one-week gig. It turned out I was living over there for five and a half months.

(left to right) Jason Alexander as Boris, Billy Crystal and Scott. Courtesy of Keith Scott.

SL: Did you find that the contact you had with Bill and the research you have done about the studio, helpful in playing Bullwinkle?

KS: Oh, invaluable. One of the things he did a few years before his death was pull out all of these huge reel-to-reel tapes, which were all the original recording sessions. I was able to make copies of everything. It's all of the episodes, including all the outtakes in between where you can hear them working out jokes and ragging each other. I studied those tapes for 20 years, and it was like fly on the wall stuff. So I had really got into the heads of not just the characters but the actors doing it. I even gave copies of them to June Foray, who was incredibly happy to get them because it was like a photo album of memories. So it really has been that total involvement with me that goes a lot deeper than just mimicking a voice.

Scott just hanging around the set with an old friend. Courtesy of Keith Scott.

SL: So what do you think set the Jay Ward cartoons apart?

KS: Well at the time, Hanna-Barbera were the big new force in town and although some of their early stuff is quite charming, it was still pretty formulaic. It was like Tom and Jerry revisited but with the new faces of Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinx. So suddenly along comes Rocky and His Friendsand they're doing jokes about congress and the Cold War, and Peabody is going back in time and altering the course of history. It just had that kind of wise-ass take on things. That nothing should be taken seriously. Bill Scott always used to say that you'd come back to it and see things that you didn't get when you were a kid. Which was true, and I started appreciating it even more, and then as an adult even more. They were multi-layered and I loved the irreverence of it. They were obviously just doing things to amuse themselves, but if you were in for the ride, it was a great ride. Then you'd start looking back at the competition again and it would still be cats chasing mice. It was well done, but Rocky and Bullwinkle just had that extra oddball feel to it.

Stephen Lynch has written about the various aspects of filmmaking for books and magazines throughout Australia, England and America, as well as co-hosting Flicks, a weekly film review program.

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