|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
When he talks, 'Harry Potter' fans listen
Jim Dale, veteran actor, says he'll be remembered for Rowling readings
(CNN) -- Jim Dale might be a respected stage actor who won a Tony Award in 1980 for the title role in the Broadway musical "Barnum," but to thousands of fans of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter," he's the voice of the title character heard on the audio version of the book series.
In fact, on the Listening Library's just-released "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," Dale portrays 125 voices in all.
"They're seriously thinking of getting in touch of the Guinness Book of Records to recommend an entry in it under 'most voices recorded from one person for an audio book,' " Dale says during a recent phone interview from his home in New York.
If they do, it will merely be the latest attention that Dale has received, thanks to his connection to "Harry Potter" mania. Like everything associated with the book, Dale is making headlines. He says he's been doing about four interviews a day since the July 8 release of the book.
The voice of Harry
Now, he's being asked questions like, "Do you think you'll be remembered for your stage work, or as the voice of Harry Potter?"
"Whether I want to or not, I think I will be remembered for 'Harry Potter,'" says Dale, 64. "But why not? How lovely to be remembered as the voice of Harry Potter.
"And to be perfectly honest, when you listen to the tapes, when you get to Harry, it's just a younger-sounding voice that you're hearing. I haven't tried to make him different from the voice I have. So it's nice to think my younger voice of myself is the voice that kids are hearing as Harry Potter."
Dale was born into a working-class family in Rothwell, Northamptonshire, England. But performing arts beckoned. Dale has been a comedian, a disc jockey for the BBC, and a recording artist who worked with legendary Beatles producer George Martin.
Along with his stage work, he has also starred on the television and silver screen.
And now this: He says he got the "Harry Potter" gig by chance -- someone with Listening Library had once seen him in the off-Broadway play, "Travels With My Aunt." In the production, based on the Graham Greene novel, Dale played both the nephew and the aunt.
Listening Library officials thought Dale's wide-ranging performance experience, and the fact that he's British (something Rowling requested for the audio "Harry"), would be a good match for the book. So they called his agent.
"Never having heard of 'Harry Potter,' I said I'd like to read it," Dale recalled. "Having read it, I was immersed completely in the 'Harry Potter' world. I recognized that this was something exceptionally clever and very good and very well written, with a prospect of six more books to follow. So of course, this really whetted my appetite and I immediately said, 'Yes.'"
Job has perks
Dale has recorded books one through four in the seven-part series. He gets union minimum wage for his work, but it does allow other perks.
For instance, Dale was one of the first people on the planet to read "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." He recorded it over a 10-day period at the end of May, over a month before "Potter" fans lined up at midnight bookstore parties for a first peek.
"I was the first person in America to have the script and I think only the third person to know what the story was," said Dale. "Rowling wrote it, her publisher read it, and I was the next one.
"I really wanted to go on the balcony and shout, 'Look what I've got!' and to tell every kid, because I knew they would be very jealous," he says.
The publishers, however, forced Dale to sign an agreement to keep it a secret.
"My wife knew, but don't mention that because they'll probably put a spell on me and I'll disappear in a cloud of smoke," Dale says. "But you can't keep it from her -- I'm at home yelling out these voices. My wife must be an idiot if she didn't recognize this is book four. But she didn't read it."
Dale says he did manage to keep the plot line from grandchildren, three of whom are old enough to read -- and thus be fans of Harry.
"They were nearly beaten up every day by friends wanting to know the story of book four," chuckles Dale. "On bended knees, fielding off all the blows, they had to say, 'Granddad won't tell us! He won't tell us! He won't breathe a word of it!'"
Rush to production
The only real problem Dale had with recording the latest book was logistical -- he received his manuscript just two days before he was scheduled to start recording.
"There was no possibility of me knowing what the story was about beyond the first 100 pages," he says. "And that was the problem. I created these voices and then as we got further and further into the book, I'd create another voice and it would sound very similar. And I would say, 'Well, it doesn't matter because this elf lives here and this elf lives there.' But then, would you believe it? Three-quarters of the way through, these elves meet. And I didn't know that. So I had to re-record."
Dale's hard work paid off in a way that most might take for granted.
"I was very pleased that my producer, instead of putting 'Narrated by Jim Dale' or 'Spoken by Jim Dale' on the boxes, actually put 'Performed by Jim Dale,' " he says.
'Harry' and hype
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.