MuggleCast | The #1 Most-Listened to Harry Potter Podcast

MuggleCast 137 Transcript

Show Intro

Jim Dale: [as Professor McGonagall] This is Professor McGonagall welcoming you all to MuggleCast hoping you enjoyed - Dobby! Dobby, come here! Here! Dobby! [as Dobby] Yes, I'd just like to say how very pleased I am to introduce MuggleCast to all of you! Thank you! Thank you!

[Show music starts]

Andrew: Hey, everyone! Welcome back for another edition of MuggleCast. I'm here with Matt.

Matt: Hey, everyone. This is Matt.

Andrew: And...

Matt: This is MuggleCast.

Andrew: Wait, you're who?

Matt: Uh, this is Matt?

Andrew: Okay.

Matt: Obviously.

Andrew: I don't know who you are, to be honest, but we're back for - this is going to be a Special Edition of MuggleCast. There's no other hosts this week. We're here just to narrate, so to speak. Get it?

Matt: No.

Andrew: Because the Jim Dale interview.

Matt: Oh, oh right.

Andrew: Yeah. So this week is, of course, our big interview with Jim Dale, along with Micah Tannenbaum, a fellow co-host here on the show, and Aziza from Portus. Anyway, there's not going to be any special content this week. We're just going to give you a few announcements. Matt, we had a great live show the other day, didn't we?

The Live Show

Matt: We did. You know, that was a really good show. A lot of people were really up for it, and a lot of peopled listened. How many people did we have?

Andrew: Oh, we had over 100,000 people, easily.

Matt: Oh, at least.

Andrew: Yeah.

Matt: At least ten or twelve.

Andrew: Million.

Matt: [laughs] Whoa.

Andrew: Anyway, Episode 136 was our live show where we went - we streamed a live feed of us onto the Internet so everyone could listen and then call in and ask questions about the big news this week, which was Deathly Hallows being split in two.

Matt: Mhm.

Andrew: We actually asked Jim Dale about his thoughts on that and that will be coming up in just a few minutes in the interview.

Matt: That's right.

Andrew: But anyway, we want to say thank you to everyone who tuned in for that live show, and thank you, everyone, who has listened to it thus far. It's basically a regular episode of MuggleCast, only we were having a ton of fun. Ben came back, Jamie came back really quick, Kevin Steck came back. So a lot of fun. Definitely, and everyone's been saying it was the best live show ever, so check it out, Episode 136. We're very proud of that.

[Show music fades out]

Matt: That's right. And we're also planning on doing a lot more. I know Andrew said in the past, so we were planning on doing more of those live episodes, but we - they didn't really get a chance to do that. But, Andrew, are we really going to do anymore live episodes? Are you up for that?

Andrew: Yes, absolutely we will do more live episodes in the coming months ahead. We don't know when exactly, and we apologize to anyone who missed our live show this week, but I'm thinking what we'll do is we'll create a mailing list, a MuggleCast mailing list, and that way, so people don't miss upcoming shows, we will send out an e-mail a few days before, or as soon as we know we're doing a live show. So everyone can make sure that make it because a lot of people were upset that they missed Episode 136 live, but as we have promised, we said we were going to a live shows as soon as Warner Brothers broke the news about the movie split and they did, and we did a live show the day later.

Matt: Yeah.

Andrew: So sorry, guys, but next time. We'll let you know next time.

Matt: Yeah.

MuggleCast is Owning Podcast Alley

Andrew: Matt, what are we owning this week?

Matt: We are owning Podcast Alley.

Andrew: Yeah, Podcast Alley.

Matt: We freaking rule, man.

Andrew: We freaking rule! We're number one this month, so far. Thanks to everyone who's been voting for us. It's MuggleCast March, so we have to win.

Matt: Yes.

Andrew: And we encourage all of you to continue voting. You can only vote once a month, but don't forget to vote next month for MuggleCast Maypril and then MuggleCast May, MuggleCast Mune, MuggleCast Muly.

Matt: MuggleCast May just doesn't sound very good. You've got to be more creative than that, Andrew. Come on.

Andrew: Muggle...Muggle May? Muggle May?

Matt: How about MayCast?

Andrew: MayCast?

Matt: Or Muggle...

Andrew: Muggle May.

Matt: Yeah.

Andrew: Muggle May.

Matt: Muggle May.

Andrew: Okay. Anyway, thank you to everyone who's voted for us. We - you know, it's out of nowhere this month. We're number one. Everyone decided to help us out this month, so thank you. Thank you, thank you.

Matt: We have a very comfortable lead, too, on it.

Andrew: Yes, we do. At least a couple hundred votes. And we find that important to stay high up in that Top Ten list because we want people new to podcasting to visit Podcast Alley, which they do, and see that MuggleCast must be a great podcast. [laughs] And it is, I mean, you know.

Matt: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. Anyway, let's waste no more time this week, Matt.

Matt: All right. Let's do it.

Andrew: We're going to jump straight into the interview with the one and only narrator of the U.S. and Canada Harry Potter audiobooks, Jim Dale. We're going to be joined now by Micah Tannenbaum and Aziza.

Jim Dale Interview

Andrew: All right, Matt, Micah, and I are now joined by Aziza from Portus. Hey, Aziza.

Aziza: Hey, guys. Yay!

Andrew: We've got a big interview coming up in just a couple minutes.

Aziza: We do.

Andrew: But do you want to explain your job at Portus so everyone can get to know you a little bit?

Aziza: Sure will. I am the Portus' public relations chair, so basically I make sure that all of you guys know what you need to know about Portus, and I keep you updated with the monthly newsletter as well as the Portus Previews, which is the official podcast for Portus in which we kind of interview all of the special guests, wizard rock bands, podcasters, everyone who will make Portus what Portus is going to be in July. So, yeah, basically, I'm the one that knows what you've got to know for Portus.

Andrew: Sweet. You've been doing a great job.

Aziza: Oh, thank you.


Aziza: Yes. And really visit the website. The website is a great resource for everything, and we have a MySpace page, a Facebook page, and even a LiveJournal page.

Andrew: Awesome.

Micah: All your bases are covered.

Matt: We'll put that all in the show notes, too...

Aziza: Yeah, you guys friend us.

Matt: they can find it.

Andrew: Yeah. We each have each other in our top eights on MySpace, so we're like best friends.

Aziza: Yes, we do. Yes we are.

Andrew: That automatically means we're best friends. [laughs]

Aziza: Totally.

Andrew: Okay. I think it is time to call him, right?

Aziza: Call him. Oh my god! Okay, I'm sorry.

[Everyone laughs]

Aziza: Everyone take a drink of water. Oh, so nervous! Are you guys nervous?

Andrew: I am, actually. I've been drinking all my water. I'm going to be out before we even call him. [laughs]

Aziza: And everyone's going to be like, "Excuse me, Mr. Dale, I have to go pee."

Matt: "Excuse me Mr. Dale..." Andrew and

Aziza: Yeah.

Aziza: All right, I'm going to take a sip of water and then we'll call him.

Andrew: Okay.

Matt: All right.

Aziza: And we're now joined by Jim Dale, the U.S. narrator of the Harry Potter books. Mr. Dale is a Tony Award winning actor, and will be joining us at Portus this July since he might know a little bit about this Harry Potter stuff. Hello, Mr. Dale.

Jim: Hi, it's nice to be with you.

Aziza: It's great to have you here, and hear that voice. [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah. It's kind of surreal hearing it outside the audiobooks.

[Jim laughs]

Jim's Take on the Split Movie

Andrew: We'll start off the questions today with a recent news story. I'm not sure if you've heard about this yet, but they've decided to split the final film into two parts. Did you hear about this?

Jim: Yes, I read about that. You know, my only problem with the films is, you know, if a story is written for the screen and then it has a beginning, a middle, and end, including all the characters, when you take an existing story that lasts - when you listen to it or read it, it lasts twenty-seven hours, and you try to condense that into a two-hour film you're surely missing out and losing a lot of parts of all the story, all the side stories, and all the characters. I think sixty characters were missing from one of the films due to the fact they had to edit the story down so much. So that's a pity, but if they're going to make it into two films, then at least it gives all of us a chance of seeing and hearing a little bit more of the stories and the subsidery characters in the story. I'm very pleased that they're doing that.

Andrew: Yeah.

Matt: Yeah.

Aziza: Yeah.

Matt: Definitely.

Andrew: And that's why producer David Heyman said that they want to give it - they want to do the final film more justice. So this is the only way they can do it.

Jim: Absolutely, yes. Well, you know, if they gave every film that justice each film would last about ten hours.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: That is true. What are you thoughts about the movies in general? Real quick, before we get into the...

Jim: Well, that was - actually what I just said to you is the way I feel. If it's written for the screen that's one story, that's one thing. If it's written to be read or to be listened to and then adapted for the screen you are bound to lose such a lot of it, such a lot of the content. When J.K. Rowling describes a scene it can take two whole pages. You are taken with her through a journey of what that scene is and what it looks like. She has something under every stone that she lifts up, something for you to appreciate, understand, focus on. But when it's captured on film that one scene of the view can last for two seconds, then it cuts away. So those are the things that you lose when you adapt something for the screen. You lose the writer's lovely technique of description.

If Jim Could Have a Role in the Movies

Andrew: Yeah. That is such an interesting answer. Now about the movies, a little bit more, if you were approached for a role which one would you take? Which one would you choose? If you could pick any?

Jim: I don't know, I suppose at my age, I mean years and years ago I would for Dobby, I suppose, or something.

[Everyone laughs]

Jim: I put a long nose on me. But I'm too tall for that. But anyway, I would probably go for Dumbledore.

Andrew: Okay. [laughs]

Jim: The unfortunate thing was, you know, Richard Harris was playing Dumbledore for a few years, and Richard was saying, you know, after one or two films you're finding you're sitting around on the set for weeks, and weeks, and weeks, and weeks not doing anything, and he was getting a little bored with it.

Andrew: Yeah.

Aziza: Right.

Andrew: You wouldn't want that.

Jim's Relationship with Harris

Matt: Well, since you talked a little bit about Richard Harris, what kind of relationship did you have with the late actor?

Jim: We were friends. I made a film with him in - how was it - Budapest. We met in Budapest, and I did a film called The Hunchback. It was with Mandy Patinkin and Salma Hayek as well, and we were there for many, many, many weeks and Richard and I had a lot of time to spare, so we spent time together. And I got to know him and realized he was one of the nicest actors you could ever meet.

Matt: That's just really nice to hear. He does seem like that kind of person, too.

Jim: Absolutely. Wonderful singer as well.

Matt: Oh, really?

[Aziza and Matt Laugh]

Jim: "MacArthur Park." That wonderful song he recorded, "MacArthur Park." It's one of my favorite songs. I couldn't believe I was meeting the guy who actually sang it. I was a fan. I was a great fan.

Getting Chosen to Narrate Audiobooks

Matt: Okay, let's get into the books themselves a little bit now. So, Mr. Dale, how did you get chosen for the job?

Jim: Please just call me Jim. I, you know, please, no more.

[Everyone laughs]

Matt: Okay, Jim. They told me to say that.

[Everyone laughs]

Matt: So were - did you get approached for it? Did you audition for the job?

Jim: Well, obviously they said, after I got the job, they said we were looking for someone who could do a few voices perhaps, and the man who was trying to find the right narrator was called Tim Ditlow, and Tim heard that Jim Dale, the actor, was in an off-Broadway production of Travels With My Aunt. It was a very famous film with Maggie Smith many, many years ago, the aunt and the nephew. And he was told that there were three actors speaking in the play, all dressed in identical suits, with identical mustaches, with identical hairstyles, and they were doing a total of 33 different characters: women, children, foreign people, you know, with strange accents, unbelievable policemen, and villains. And so he thought, great, so he hired me to do the job of reading for Harry Potter and then found out that Jim Dale only played the nephew and the aunt. The other guys played 31 roles between them. So I really got the job under false pretenses.

[Aziza laughs]

Jim: But I'm very pleased I did.

Aziza: As are we. [laughs]

Preparing for a Reading

Matt: What kind of process do you take when you prepare for a reading?

Jim: Well, never having narrated an audiobook before - I think I had tackled one many, many years ago; it must've been so bad it was never released.

[Matt laughs]

Jim: So I really didn't know how to do it, so I had to use my own inventiveness. And I realized when I read the first page, that it would be a good idea to mark the characters as I got to them, not only on the script but also on a separate notepad. And also to read the first sentence that that character speaks into a tape recorder prefacing it with, say, "Page One, Dumbledore" and then read the first sentence that Dumbledore speaks. And I realized if I did that, then I could go to the studio with this tape recorder and tape, and anytime I was a little confused as to what voice I had invented then I would replay the tape to voice 27, say, which was on page 31. And that was in the script, so I knew it was voice 27. I would rewind the tape or wind the tape back onto voice 27, listen to it, and then it would jog my memory as to the voice for that particular character. And I thought, well, that seems a good way to go. Then also you do have to attack that script by marking it constantly, because the writer doesn't say the sentence like, "Dumbledore said, 'Da-da-da-da-da-da.'" It's always the opposite. "'Da-da-da-da-da-da,' said Dumbledore."

[Matt laughs]

Jim: So, therefore, you have you have to know who is speaking prior to that line. So, all the dialogue has to be marked either with the initial of the character or you identify the character with a certain color.

Matt: Oh.

Jim: So, sometimes that page looks like a rainbow...

Matt: [laughs] Yeah.

Jim: ...of different colors, but of course you have to memorize what the colors mean and what names they represent.

Matt: I could imagine. How many times would you say you read the books?

Jim: I am very lucky if I get a chance to read it once.

Matt: Oh, really?

Jim: I'm given the book on maybe Saturday, and on Monday I am supposed to be in the studio recording it.

Andrew: Wow.

Jim: Now, see what happens is that we are - I think the publishing company negotiates for the right to make the audio book, but then of course we have to wait for the real book to be published, and then a copy of it sent to us after it's been corrected, etc., and we get it very, very late, so we've only got maybe seven weeks or eight weeks before the book comes out onto the shelves at the bookstore, which means that if our tape is not on the shelf on the same day, then the kids can't wait for the audio book. They'll buy the book and then their parents will then say, "We'll buy you the book, but we're not getting you the tapes as well." So, we have to do a very, very quick job of recording...

Andrew: Mhm.

Jim: ...and everything that goes on after that. See the recording of the book is quite easy for me. I rush through my recording of it, but then it has to go through the hands of some very, very clever people called the editors, and it's the editors who find every mistake in that script that I have recorded - every mistake has to be corrected, so I have to go back into the studio. Then, only when they've finished that can they determine how many CDs it will need for the package. Only then can the package be designed. All of this has to be done and then taken to the factories, and everything has to be printed and published and packed and sent out to those shops throughout America in time for that opening day the book is released. So, it is very, very fast, and I just cannot take my time. In the first one or two or three books of Harry Potter, I was able to do that because the books were already on the market. They were in no hurry to get the audiobooks out. The books had been sold. So I could think of maybe one or two or three different voices for a particular character and then choose - make it my choice as to which of those three voices I would finally select. Later on I just did not have the time to do that. I just had to think of a voice, say to myself, "is it or isn't it? Yes it is," and then tape it, as I said, on my little tape recorder, and then move on to the next voice, because later on as you will appreciate - you know, when you get one hundred and thirty four voices in Book 5, that's a lot of voices to invent.

Matt: Yeah.

The Voices in the Audiobooks

Jim: Also, I may have mentioned that Book 7 was a hundred and fourty seven voices...

Aziza: Wow.

Jim: ...which broke the previous record. But then people say, "So she invented another seven characters, or eight characters." And my answer to that is no, what she did in Book 7 is she took out sixty characters that were in Book 5 and invented another seventy one characters.

Andrew: [laughs] Oh, wow!

Matt: Oh, my goodness.

[Aziza laughs]

Jim: So all that added up adds up to a hundred and forty five voices, I think. So it wasn't a matter of just inventing seven more voices, it was a matter of inventing fifty or fifty-five or sixty new voices which everyone will know.

Matt: Distinct voices.

Jim: Yeah. So that was a problem.

[Everyone laughs]

Jim: Because you run out of voices!

[Matt laughs]

Jim: My wife, she's reading in bed late at night and she hears me screaming out "Where are you? Where are you?"

[Everyone laughs]

Jim: So it's always very difficult. Sometimes I don't even know who Jim Dale is at the end of the day.

[Everyone laughs]

Aziza: That's funny.

Matt: That's funny.

Aziza: Well, with Deathly Hallows, since you created so many voices for it, what was your - did you have a favorite character that was excluded to that book or did you have a favorite scene while you were reading in DH?

A Tedious Process

Jim: Let me explain something. As I've just explained how quickly we have to do it, you'll appreciate that when I read the book, I am really browsing through it very quickly to get to the characters, to get to the characters, to identify who they are, what they are, and then invent a voice for them and record it and then move on. And when you have so many voices to invent you can't spend too much time as a reader would, just sitting there, swallowing, tasting every word that is written by J.K. Rowling. You have to just scroll through the script as it were, quite quickly, to focus on what is very important, which is the construction, the designing of that character's voice because you have to become that character, you have to get into the head of that character and see the world through their eyes, whether they're a snake or a spider or a villian or a hero. You have to be in their head. So at the end of the day when I've got all the tape ready to record I haven't really followed the story that closely, so the first time I actually read the story and focus on it is when I'm recording it.

Andrew: Mhm.

Jim: Then, of course, we're in such a great hurry that there are no takes. Two, three, four, five or six. We don't do it that way. I have to keep reading until something happens causing them to have to stop the tape. Something happens in the way that there might be a page that has to be turned. That would make a sound, so I have to stop - they have to stop the tape then. If I just touch my shirt and it makes a scratching sound, that can be picked up by the microphone. We have to stop and go back on that. So there are many instances when we have to keep stop-start, stop-start, stop-start. And while we're doing that, yesterday's recording is being listened to and the editors are now coming back into the studio today to ask me to rerecord stuff I did two days before. So it's all very fast and furious and mind-boggling at some times. And I have no idea what I'm doing half the time.

[Everyone laughs]

Jim: Because I'd - I'd forgotten the mood that I was in. Two days ago I'm asked to record one line. What was the mood that I - my character was in? So it all takes a lot of working out before you come up with the final - the final version of it.

Matt: Yeah. I can just imagine just all that stuff to think about and all these people coming at you.

Jim: This is not just me. This applies to every narrator who narrates a book that contains characters whose voices have to be heard. So it's not just Jim Dale, it's every narrator goes through this and has their own technique, their own way of capturing the story for their listeners to understand and appreciate and enjoy.

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