In an unusual casting choice, Robert Pattinson, The Batman star, was taped to voice the role of the mischievous heron in legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s latest feature film, The Boy and the Heron. And despite having no previous professional voice acting experience, Pattinson managed to completely nail the voice using only iPhone recordings he made on his own. When Pattinson first got the role, some were skeptical if The Batman star was the right choice for such a pivotal part in what may be Miyazaki’s final film. But Pattinson was so passionate about the project that he put in the work to develop the voice on his own before even stepping into the recording booth.
How Did Batman Star Create the Heron Voice Using His iPhone?
As per Indie Wire, according to Michael Sinterniklaas, the voice director for the English dub of The Boy and the Heron, when Robert Pattinson came in for his first recording session, he already had voice samples ready to showcase using the Memo app on his iPhone.
“He was like ‘OK, I’ve been thinking about this role and I recorded some stuff. Do you want to hear it?’ And he whips out his iPhone and plays some stuff that he’s just been doing in the Memos app and it was already the voice,” Sinterniklaas said.
Over the course of several weeks, the Batman star worked on developing a unique vocal quality for the troublesome heron, described as Gollum meets the Cryptkeeper, that he could jump right into without needing any coaching.
Pattinson was apparently so prepared that he recorded all his dialogue in just a couple of days. GKIDS executive Rodney Uhler described Pattinson’s Heron voice as “magic.”
Why Was Casting Robert Pattinson a Surprise Choice?
The Batman star wasn’t initially seen as an obvious fit for the role. When the Japanese version of the film cast young pop star Masaki Suda as the Heron, the team at GKIDS knew they would need to find someone around the same age. So when Pattinson’s name was first suggested, some were caught off guard.
But the director was convinced by the actor’s more avant-garde film roles and believed he could bring the right sense of complexity needed for the part. Pattinson’s breakout performance in Good Time proved he was willing to take on edgier characters. Ultimately, his passion for the project shone through.
According to director Dave Jesteadt, as soon as they introduced the film and the specific role to Pattinson:
“He was, I would say, giddy with excitement…We didn’t offer him a platter of roles — we offered him only the Heron, and he was very, very excited about being presented with a role as complicated and nuanced as this one.”
So, while listeners may not immediately recognize his iconic voice when watching The Boy and the Heron, Pattinson delivers a standout performance as the troublesome heron that drives the film’s key emotional arc. He managed to transform completely using nothing more than his own iPhone app.