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WORKING HOLLYWOOD

The voice that launches a thousand movie trailers

December 24, 2006|Susan King

Hal Douglas

Voice-over actor for four decades specializing in movie trailers, TV, documentaries, commercials and business films.

"It's really narration in all of its own forms. One takes what comes -- that is the working craft, you know."

Currently providing the voice-overs for the faux movie trailers in "The Holiday" and for the actual trailers for "Night at the Museum."

Previous credits: The lengthy list includes being the voice of A&E Networks and the announcer for several years for the WB series "Seventh Heaven," "Dawson's Creek" and "The Gilmore Girls."

Global connections: "I have already done four [voice-overs] today. 'Music and Lyrics,' that's a new one. I have another for 'The Holiday.' I also worked with London this morning on [another spot] for 'The Holiday.' I worked with Trinidad earlier in the day. I work with them periodically for a television station down there. And another trailer for another new movie called 'Talk to Me.' "

Phoning it in: "I am sitting in my little studio upstairs. I am grateful for when the ISDN [Integrated Services Digital Network] system entered my life. So many guys and gals are using that nowadays. I am not a techie, but what it does essentially is digitize the voice and sends it out over in a digital form over long distance lines. Any place a phone line goes, so goes my voice."

Intuition: "I get direction, but for the most part it is kind of working in the dark to an extent, particularly for movies. You get the description of the movie, the contexts of the lines that you are doing, and the rest of it is intuitive. It comes as a result from a long history of doing this stuff. Movies, particularly, fall into departments. You have an action film, you have a romantic film, you have the dark films. They all suggest an attitude and a voice quality. I don't do character voices per se, but depending upon the emotion, try to approach it as an actor."

Background: "The first job I had was announcer on a small station in Coral Gables, Fla. I went to an ABC affiliate in Connecticut and worked as a staff announcer for a year, and then I moved to New York and started freelancing. It was then I began doing TV spokesman [spots] as well as voice-overs for commercials.

"The next thing I did was to go into advertising agency work. I wanted to get into production and get out of performance because I wanted a salary at the end of the week. I worked for four big agencies over 10 years or so, as a commercial producer-director. At a point, I got back into doing narrations and voice-overs, and when I got back to it again I was really well equipped because I had been an ad agency guy. I knew how to read copy and sell pieces."

That voice: "People have been telling me that they have been hearing me since they were children."

Problem solving: "I just did these spots for ABC's 'Big Day.' There was a five-second spot and a couple of 10s. Often, it's a problem to get it into time and bring a performance to it. I don't use a stopwatch at all. I never did. It becomes intuitive over time."

Resides: "We have a little horse farm an hour outside of Washington, D.C., in Virginia. It's at the top of the state toward Maryland and West Virginia."

Union or guild: Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA.

Age: "My age? I think we can let that go. I am a mature gentleman."

-- Susan King

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