“Hôtel Transylvanie: transformanie”: Gabriel Lessard shares the secrets of dubbing

“Hotel Transylvania: transformanie”: Gabriel Lessard shares the secrets of dubbing


Gabriel Lessard, who has voiced the character of Johnny in the animated quadrilogy “Hotel Transylvania” since the first feature film 10 years ago, took us behind the scenes of his very particular job and a saga which is just as important.

“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania,” the latest film in this fun family franchise, follows Dracula as he contemplates handing over the keys to his hotel to his daughter Mavis and son-in-law Johnny. But the attitude of the latter makes him reconsider his decision. One thing leading to another and due to the intervention of Van Helsing, Dracula's stepfather, the latter is transformed into a human while Johnny becomes a dragon. 

“We recorded all alone, each on our own, which makes the work much more difficult”, explained Gabriel Lessard from the outset, when questioned about the progress of the dubbing carried out in 2020 – date on which the film was to take the poster, but due to the pandemic, its release has been postponed numerous times. 

“I like Johnny's naivety. He's someone completely happy without being stupid. It is very deep and very sensitive, in fact. This is what is the “fun” to play this character. It is very pleasant to pick up. He has a beautiful madness too, he goes to excess, in pure emotion, ”he said in a telephone interview. 

Like music. ..

Gabriel Lessard makes no distinction between his job as an actor and his job as a dubber. “It’s fascinating to understand the characters. We must not judge each character we have to defend. At first glance, Johnny could have been completely stupid, but no, on the contrary. It forced me to seek out this naivety, this open-mindedness. Johnny brought me letting go.” 

“I kinda compare dubbing to playing the piano. Any pianist can have a Beethoven score and play the same symphony. What differentiates a good pianist from a great pianist? There is one who takes this score and makes it his own. For me, that's dubbing. It's not fair to stupidly imitate what the other has done – anyway, it's not the same language – you have to appropriate it and give the same emotion so that the French-speaking public receives the same movie. You have to respect the breaths, the silences, the crescendos. Dubbing is very musical.” 

Asked about what he instilled in Johnny, Gabriel Lessard reflects, then laughs. “It's hard to say, I think there's a bit of us in every character… If another voice actor had done it, it sure would have sounded different. I had the role on audition, I had already dubbed Andy Samberg before. So there must be something that I don't control too much in my personality and my timbre of voice that must join Johnny's primary energy.” 

And when the time comes to explain the success and longevity of the franchise, Gabriel Lessard underlines “with each film, there is a beautiful evolution in the characters”. And of this fourth opus, he mentions that “there is a quest for identity, self-acceptance, acceptance of others and difference. And that, in wanting to become someone else, you end up getting lost.” 

“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania” hits theaters on January 14 on Amazon Prime Video.

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