Any film, and any filmmaker, who can make Mussolini part of the story of film dubbing is a film, and a filmmaker, that I want to know. With BEING GEORGE CLOONEY, and Paul Mariano, I was amply rewarded for my time watching this illuminating documentary about the voice actors who put Italian (French, Hindi, Portuguese, etc.) words into the mouths of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Generally unsung, and unknown, they do more than read lines of dialogue. They being emotion and energy to scenes, as well as making sure that they are matching mouth movements and breathing.
Mariano’s film introduces us to several of the men who regularly voice Clooney in other countries, as well as the woman who voices Hermione in the Harry Potter series, who can’t get over how much Emma Watson uses heavy breathing while playing that part. There are plenty of such anecdotes, but the point of the film, beautifully made, is that these artists fail for the most part to receive the credit they deserve, The one exception are those working in Italy, which hands out annual awards for the art form.
When I spoke with Mariano by phone on June 8, 2016, we started with where his interest in this profession began, moved on through the percentage of profits that American studios receive from overseas (in some cases, most), and, of course, Mussolini. We finished up with my asking if any of the voice actors had finally met the people they voice, now that the film had received attention on the festival circuit. He answered by telling me about his own dream about such a meeting, one that I hope comes true.
BEING GEORGE CLOONEY is his documentary about the talented group of individuals that dub Hollywood’s biggest stars into other languages, focusing on an intrepid group who specialize in the eponymous Mr. Clooney. Often working without recognition, low pay, and only a love of their master of voice acting to keep them going, these voice actors reveal the art of dubbing, as well as an insight into the human voice as a virtuoso instrument, while the film itself explores the commercial side of the American film business that relies on overseas sales to stay solvent. Mariano’s professional life began as an attorney before he turned to filmmaking with such films as ALSO RAN, about his run for Governor of California, and a scintillating history of cinema, THOSE AMAZING SHADOWS.
Fantastic movie, saw it at the Santa Barbara film festival, can’t wait to see it again.