In her new comedy “In a World…,” Lake Bell stars as Carol, a young woman trying to make it in the cutthroat, male-dominated voice-over industry.
The catch? The struggling 30-something still lives with her voice-over veteran father (Fred Melamed), who kicks her out of the house at the behest of his 26-year-old girlfriend.
Thanks to a bizarre turn of events, the father-daughter duo end up competing against each other for the same gig on a fictional film quadrilogy called “The Amazon Games.”
Bell, best known for her roles on the Adult Swim show “Children’s Hospital” and the former HBO series “How to Make it in America,” wrote, produced, directed and stars in the film, which took home the prize for Best Screenplay at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
I recently sat down with Bell to discuss “In a World…,” her longtime interest in the voice-over industry, the difficulties of asking famous friends for favors and how the “sexy baby vocal virus” is plaguing women everywhere.
“The voice-over industry was always really interesting to me, but I just liked the idea of the blind voice, the idea that you could be any character in the world – any nationality, any gender,” Bell, who studied drama at Britain’s renowned Rose Bruford College, revealed. “In the movie, [Ken Marino‘s character] is always on the speakerphone with his male, ornery, old Jewish agent who sounds like Alan Arkin. Fun fact… that was me! That is why voice-over is so cool. You’re not judged by what you look like, you get to be anybody.”
The fact that a vast majority of movie trailer voice-overs, which Bell refers to as “the voice of God,” only feature male voices — including films with dominant female leads — fascinated the actress.
“We just accept it,” she said. “Women are moviegoers. If you’re going to have a female voice-over sell me tampons, yogurt and kitty litter in commercials, then why not have a female voice-over on a movie like “Twilight,” which is a heavily female audience, or in other female-driven movies. Why not?”
Despite previous hesitations about working with friends, Bell called upon several of her famous pals, including Eva Longoria, Jeff Garland and Geena Davis, to appear in the film.
“All of those people I am lucky enough to have in my iPhone, they are just friends of mine. Eva is a really, really close friend of mine, so I was able to say, ‘Hey look, I would never want to ask a favor of you… but I’m asking it,'” she said. “But it’s hard, because when you ask your actor friends to be in a project, if the movie comes out and it’s crappy, there’s no real excuse. It’s a little brand on their resume that they can’t flick off, so it’s a lot to ask. And, they’re also very f***ing busy! It’s tremendous. I needed Eva for two days. I needed her on the actual shoot day, but I also needed her to do the fake movie that we shot for her.”
Her other mission in creating the movie is to battle, what she calls, the “Sexy Baby Vocal Virus,” in hopes of making women more “vocally self-aware of what they are putting out there.”
Bell explained, “When you walk into a room, there are two vast impressions that you make. One is what you look like and the second is when you open your mouth and communicate with the other people around you. As a woman, your voice is extremely important. I really believe it is an important and noble cause to be aware of your own voice. If you are single, or trying to lock down a dream job, and you walk into a date or an interview with a voice that is evoking that you are a 12-year-old little girl, and you have regressed and are submissive and weak, I think it does do you a great disservice.”
“In a World…” is in select theaters now. Click here to order tickets through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.