Fuel up the Mystery Machine, because Aussie voice actor and stuntman Neil Fanning is returning to Supanova! In preparation for his appearances at Gold Coast (15-16 April) and Melbourne (22-23 April), we revisit his panel from Brisnova last year, where he shared stories of with his hilarious voicework as Scooby-Doo in the live-action duology and more.
The foundations of a long, successful career with Warner Bros.
“I was a day one performer at Warner Bros. Movie World on the Gold Coast in 1991. That was an amazing experience. I started off in the park as an actor doing the street shows, the Bonnie and Clyde bank robbery, and the acting roles in the Police Academy Stunt Show.
“I did show #1 on the 3rd of June 1991 and in the audience were all the stars from Warner Bros. at the time! They flew out to Australia for the opening of Warner Bros. Movie World. Clint Eastwood, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell…
“About three or four months after we opened, the stunt coordinator asked me if I’d like to audition for the stunt roles in the show. I’d done a little bit of driving in my youth and a few things in the past that translated over to stunts. I was then doing the stunt roles in the show as well as the acting roles; I did every role in the show… the Police Academy Stunt Show was supposed to go for 18 months, and it went for 18 years.”
How did Neil become Scooby-Doo?
“I was a voice actor for six or seven years before I got Scooby-Doo. They had a voice actor at the time who was performing Scooby in some animations, and they asked him if he’d like to come out to Australia to voice-read the live-action character, and then do the final recording. He said he’d just do the final recording, so they went, ‘No worries, we’ll get a local to do that role.’
“Every voice artist in the country at the time auditioned for the voice reader’s role. What happens here is I’m performing Scooby-Doo the character in the voice and I’m talking to Matt [Lillard, Shaggy] or whoever’s talking to Scooby… I’m talking to them live being recorded. I’m bringing Scooby to set because he’s built in CGI land later. It’s very difficult to act to nothing.
“I was there for them to act to me, and I would deliver the lines back to them live in character. Later, I went back to the studio and recorded all that dialogue back again many, many times for the movie. It was just an opportunity; I was the voice reader and because I was being recorded, all that dialogue was going back to Burbank into Warner Bros. studios. All the executives were hearing me and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, whose this Australian guy? He’s amazing!’
“I was writing some dialogue for the film, doing my best to help the actors. It came to the end and they said that they’d promised the American actor the gig, but they loved what I did. So, they flew him out to Australia and got us to each do our versions of the film in the studio and they’d choose. I had a voice-off with the American actor, and they went with the Australian!”
Favourite Scooby-Doo scene to shoot?
“Working with Rowan Atkinson was amazing. There was a whole day where he and I were the only actors called to set, and I got to do my dialogue back to Rowan Atkinson. He’s acting to me and I’m acting to him. That was pretty incredible. That’s the office scene where I become the sacrifice. So, I think that’s probably my favourite day.”
Which Scooby-Doo scene was the most challenging to film?
“The recording process for a CGI movie is that I go back into the studio after we’ve finished filming and I record the [voice] in the recording studio with the movie playing in front of me. But nothing’s there yet. So, I have to imagine where Scooby’s going, what he’s doing.
“One scene that was very difficult for me to imagine was when Shaggy and I fall out of the van and we’re bouncing down the hill in Scooby-Doo 1, there’s nothing there. The camera’s just going down this empty slope and I’ve gotta imagine what I’m doing as Scooby’s bouncing down. Mentally seeing it and recording it was pretty tough on my voice, and very difficult to imagine.”
Scooby Doo 3; would he do it for a Scooby-Snack?
“Absolutely. I’m not sure if there’s anything in the wind [for Scooby]… James Gunn has just been promoted to a fairly high position [at DC]. He’s pretty keen to do something. I don’t know what, I haven’t been called. But I’d love to come back and do 20 [Scooby films]! You could do anything with this franchise; you could go to Scotland and make it a mystery in the moors in the castles. You could go anywhere there’s a mystery to be had.”
Lead Image: Neil Fanning at Supanova 2022 – Adelaide. Photo by Ewan Ly