Paget Brewster has been acting steadily since the mid 90's, but the name might not immediately conjure a face (unless you watched "Andy Richter Saves the Universe, which you should have, but I suppose that's another article for another day). She has played such iconic characters as Lana Lang and Birdgirl . . . from the recording booth. Ms. Brewster began her voice over career in the late 90's on an amazing cartoon called "Godzilla: The Series," and credits that as the experience that helped further her talent in voice over. "I'm glad that was my first animation experience, because if I had to go in a room alone, which is what you have to do a lot of the time... I don't think I would have enjoyed it or learned as much as fast as I did being in a room with really outstanding, talented voice over people, so that was a great experience to start that way." Up until recently, I always thought of a voice over actor doing his/her job in a large booth, likely standing next to a cardboard cutout of their character. Brewster says that "when we recorded (Godzilla), there were nine or ten of us in the room recording the whole cartoon, and I've only seen that, I mean, I think I did "King of the Hill" and there were four of us in the room, but as far as the whole cast, I haven't seen that since Godzilla." Also in that room? Let's put it this way: if you were playing a game of "I Never" with Paget Brewster and said "I've never been in the same room as Ian Ziering, Tom Kenny, and Joe Pantaliano," she would have to drink.
Currently Brewster performs on HUB TV's "Dan Vs.," a more grown-up show than a lot of the programming, but still appropriate for all ages. The show is about a man who thinks the whole world is against him (played by Curtis Armstrong). Dan is assisted in his score settling by his laid back friend Chris (Dave Foley), and Chris's wife Elise (Brewster) often plays along - sometimes with her own motives. She happens to be a secret spy with mad Kung Fu moves. The three stars record together as much as possible, but as is typical with a lot of voice over actors, schedule conflicts can occasionally cause a cross country recording session. It's a small inconvenience, but "too bad, because the more of you there are in the room the more fun it is!"
I asked Ms. Brewster if her time was split equally between live action and voice over. "Well, I think because live action takes so much longer it certainly looks like it on my resume, which makes me happy." She reports that her commitment to the medium has grown so much that she recently purchased a "fancy mic." "My boyfriend is a composer and musician and we built a recording studio in the house, and I bought this fancy mic and I'm hoping to do more animation and voice over work so we'll see how it works." For our audiophile readers, I regretfully admit that I did not ask the brand. Though never explicitly stated, Brewster's love of this medium is evident. When asked to describe her different preparations for live action versus voice over work, she said "
They're obviously very, very different mediums. you know when you're doing live action you're in hair and make up for an hour and a half, you have wardrobe fittings, you have to be aware of where the lights are, and your mark, and do a stunt, and when you're doing voice work - every single thing you're doing has to be in your voice. It's a completely specific form of acting and it's a very pure form of acting because you're not worrying about 'how do I look, where am I standing,' when you're doing animation we don't see the animated version of our self until the show is done, so I'm not controlling my face, or my facial expression, all I can do is the voice and they animate from that. It's exciting because it's very... If you're in the room and you're doing a scene with running, you're in the recording studio in Burbank running in front of a microphone and it's very high energy and specific. It's nice to do that kind of acting, because it's just pure acting. You're not relying on anything else."
Aside from the aforementioned Fancy Mic, Brewster has no special rituals or tendencies to prepare her voice. Prompted by legends of performers requiring a certain room temperature or performing questionable rituals to maintain their instrument, I asked if she had any new self maintenance habits. "No, I think if I started worrying about the sound of my voice, then I wouldn't be just doing the story and feeling what I'm feeling and if I was overly concerned with how it sounded. With your voice it's more important that you be present and game, and just keep trying or go bigger or follow direction." She voice a reminder for all performers, in that "if I have to scream a lot, I do ask that we do that at the end of the session. And most people do." The only person she knows that can scream for two or three hours straight? The man most folks in my age demographic remember as the groddy sidekick, or perhaps Ms. DePesto's boyfriend: "Curtis. Curtis never yells in real life. Curtis is so sweet, and kind, and gentle, he just gets it all out playing Dan. He's a crazy man! I don't know how he doesn't blow his voice out. It's extraordinary." Childhood illusion shattered. In a good way.
Talking with Paget Brewster is a delight. She genuinely enjoys her job, talks easily and unpretentiously and is very, very funny. I asked if she had ever done any video game acting, and she hasn't but implied that if she were asked would do so "in a hot minute." We got the giggles about procedural cop-show video games ("they make these video games out of cop shows, like Lenny Brisco?"), snickered over hypothetical gargling substances, and she provided wonderful insight into the world of voice over acting. Did I mention she's been a photographer for Suicide Girls? Yeah. Whole package. For sure.