Narrator Spotlight: Star Wars

by Lindsey A.

With Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi just around the corner, the time is ripe for a Star Wars post! But really, is there ever a wrong time?

Recently I read From a Certain Point of View, a collection of forty stories by different authors that re-imagine the original movie from the POV of minor characters. You’ll hear from rebels (in a touching story by Wil Wheaton, a man on Yavin 4 records a video for his young daughter), Imperials (an HR Specialist aboard the Death Star practices the fine art of form filing), civilians (bartenders, bounty hunters, and a Jawa who dreams of space travel), and known characters like Aunt Beru, Greedo, and Qui-Gon Jinn (in spirit form). There are poignant stories in unexpected places. I nearly wept over the story about the R5 astromech droid (“Red”) that blew its top to let R2-D2 meet his destiny, and the one about the [possibly Force-touched] creature in the Death Star’s trash compactor. I listened to this book on audio and it was a full cast production with some unexpected celebrity voices (Jon Hamm as Boba Fett – enough said). I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Listening to a Star Wars audiobook is an immersive experience. I’ve been tracking them down for decades. I have very fond memories of listening to NPR’s Star Wars radio dramas from the 80s and 90s (thanks to my local library). I even bought the screenplays, obsessing over scenes that never made it onto film. I read those screenplays to my younger brother while he played video games on our Sega.

In recent years, they have really upped the ante in Star Wars audiobook production. These audiobooks contain musical score, sound effects, and vocal distortions. You will hear the din of crowds, the bleeps and whistles of droids (I’m looking at you, R2-D2), the ricochet of blaster fire, and the distinct hum of a lightsaber.

Marc Thompson

One of my favorite narrators is Marc Thompson. He does incredible voice work. Imagine the difficulty in voicing the vast collection of humans and aliens in the Star Wars universe. There are so many languages, accents and dialects, not to mention all the beloved characters recognizable to any Star Wars fan. Thompson somehow manages to sound like Han Solo. He sounds like Emperor Palpatine. He even sounds like Jar Jar Binks (if anyone aspires to that)! He is truly a gifted mimic. One of my favorite series narrated by Thompson is Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy, which begins after the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi.

Thompson also performed narration for Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn books, beginning with Heir to the Empire, and continuing with the recent prequel, Thrawn. Thompson’s voice for Thrawn is silky, menacing, almost hypnotic.

Jonathan Davis

Another great narrator of Star Wars audiobook is Jonathan Davis. He narrated the novelizations for the recent Star Wars films, A Force Awakens and Rogue One. Davis has an engaging voice, and I know from past listening experiences that he does a great Yoda and Boba Fett. Essentially, the man knows his Star Wars!

Davis also narrated Catalyst, James Luceno’s prequel novel to Rogue One. You’ll learn much more about Jyn Erso’s father, Galen Erso, well as Orson Krennic and the development of the Death Star. The relationship between Erso and Krennic is filled with tension, and Davis’ narration helps make the book a riveting read.

January LaVoy

After Carrie Fisher, January LaVoy is the voice of Leia. She has narrated a number of Leia-centric books for a wide range of ages, from the excellent political drama Bloodline to the middle grade adventure Moving Target. She does other Star Wars narrations as well, and skillfully embodied the imposing Captain Phasma in Delilah S. Dawson’s 2017 novel, Phasma. I’ve come to rely on LaVoy to provide the strength and substance I expect from female characters in the Star Wars franchise. She hasn’t failed me yet!

Now, who’s ready for The Last Jedi? The novelization by Jason Fry won’t be out until March 2018 but hey, we don’t want to be spoiled before the film’s release, right?

View the complete list.

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Comments

6 responses to “Narrator Spotlight: Star Wars”

  1. Brian says:

    And here is how Marc Thompson does it. Great fun and amazingly well done. Thanks Lindsey!

    https://youtu.be/yOCWFuVv710

    • Lindsey A. says:

      This is so awesome! I love getting a glimpse of voice actors at work. They put so much expression in their faces to achieve certain voices and we rarely get to see it! Thanks for sharing, Brian.

  2. Julie says:

    Marc Thompson is in my top 3 favorite narrators! He is amazing (there is no hyperbole where his talents are concerned!)! Star Wars posted an interview with him about how he voices Thrawn (I have my own ideas on his characterization of Thrawn, but I don’t want to get in your ear before he does lol): http://www.starwars.com/news/marc-thompson-thrawn-audiobook-interview?hootPostID=7b2884eb0633226c62e8f64188c61938

    • Lindsey says:

      Oooh, thanks for the link! First off, I didn’t even know Thrawn was in that Rebels TV series. Secondly, the internal monologues he has as he picks apart characters are actually pretty eerie, and Marc channels that so well.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for the recommendations. I can’t wait to hear them all!

    • Lindsey A. says:

      You’re so welcome, Stephanie! Once you discover how high the production quality is on these, there are so many to choose from.

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