Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Peanuts Find Their Voices

Meet the kids behind of the voices of Charlie Brown and friends.
Noah Schnapp IS Charlie Brown. Funny, he has more hair than I would have expected. (Twentieth Century Fox Animation)


Probably, the biggest concern among Peanuts fans regarding the new Peanuts movie is will it faithful to its many years of previous TV specials. One factor included with that concern is “will the voices of the characters sound the same?” To ensure that the new voices match the voices of our memories, over 1,000 children from all over the U.S. were auditioned for the most prominent roles. In the end, director Steve Martino and casting director Christian Kaplan found who they were looking for in Noah Schnapp, Alex Garfin, Hadley Miller, Francesca Capaldi and Mariel Sheets.

“Noah has a great voice for Charlie Brown, but also has a similar temperament to the character,” says Martino about ten-year-old Schnapp. “That allowed us to rely on his natural tendencies and it really felt like Charlie Brown.”

Finding their Charlie Brown turned out to be one of the easier voices to find. Martino says that finding Linus was a bit harder and kept him up at nights. “Linus was my favorite voice from the original Peanuts specials and was the voice I was most worried about casting,” he recalls.  “Linus had this wonderful natural lisp.  It was never overdone but it felt so ‘real.’  In our story, Linus is that steady, supportive friend for Charlie Brown.” Martino found those qualities in New Yorker and Eleven-year-old Alex Garfin.

Lucy is one tough girl, but Marinto says that ten-year-old Hadley Miller from Huntington Beach, California didn’t fit that profile. “Hadley has this sweet, well-mannered personality and I wondered if she could play the bold, brash side of Lucy. She knocked me over with her big, bold delivery. Hadley really understood Lucy. I said ‘Wow, that was amazing,’ and then back to being just Hadley, she said in the sweetest, most polite voice, ‘Thank you.’  She was perfect.” 

For the “Little Red-Haired Girl,” Martino didn’t have to worry about have her voice match a previous performance, but her character is so important to this new story, finding the right voice for her was just as important. “…her voice [needed to be] both sincere and sweet qualities,” says Martino.  Known for her role on the Disney Channel show, “Dog with a Blog,” ten-year-old Francesca Capaldi fit the part well.

Mariel Sheets who was able to recite lines from the original Christmas and Halloween specials and basically had no competition in receiving the role Charlie Brown’s younger sister, Sally.

The one role that they didn’t have to worry about filling was Snoopy. Bill Melendez, who was the producer of many Peanuts specials and projects in the past, has done the role of the beagle from the very beginning. His last producing role was for He’s a Bully Charlie Brown in 2006. Sadly, Melendez died in 2008 at the age of 91, but fortunately, Snoopy never actually said any words, so the creators of the new film were able to use dialogue from the previous works. Finding another voice for Snoopy would have been a real chore. Nobody could play Snoopy better than Melendez.

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