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Arts & Entertainment

Voice actors: the unseen heroes of film and television, Part II




NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10:  Rob Paulsen speaks onstage during Nickelodeon's TMNT panel during New York Comic Con at the Jacob Javits Center on October 10, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Rob Paulsen speaks onstage during Nickelodeon's TMNT panel during New York Comic Con at the Jacob Javits Center on October 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

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This segment is the second half of a two-part series on voice actors.  Listen to our other segment with voice actress Tress MacNeille here.

You probably wouldn't recognize most voice actors walking down the street, but you almost certainly recognize their voices. From cartoons to video games, voice actors carry a cast of characters inside their heads. Today we hear from veteran Rob Paulsen. 

Paulsen has been the voice of many faces since 1983. As a child, Paulsen was into rock 'n' roll. "I got a kick out of creating voices and singing popular songs in characters and dialects," he says. Little did Paulsen know this training would prepare him for roles in "Animaniacs."

Rob Paulsen in recording studio working on the Netflix series
Rob Paulsen in recording studio working on the Netflix series "Veggie Tales in the House"
Tim Greiving/KPCC

During auditions early in his career, Paulsen highlighted his unique talents: "I would interject, whenever I could, the fact that I do dialects in character and sing. I knew it would separate me from the crowd."

At age 60, Paulsen says he has been healthy all his life. But earlier this year, he discovered an unchecked lymph node was in fact stage 3 throat cancer. Now five months out of treatment, Paulsen still experiences a significant amount of pain in his throat. But it has not compromised his speaking voice: "I'm still able to do all my characters, which is what people want to hear." 

"I have to say, pound for pound, voice actors are the most talented, fearless, unafraid-of-trying- anything actors I have ever worked with," Paulsen says."It's not about how big your boobs are [or] how big your muscles are, it's about pure talent."

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