Jim Sturgess (21, Across the Universe), who voices Soren, the hero owl in Warner Bros.’ fantasy adventure “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” was readily drawn to the project because of its director, Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen). The British actor states, “Zack loves classic storytelling and is famous for putting together amazing visual sequences, so I knew from the start that this had the potential to be really stunning.”
In the film, Soren, a barn owl raised in the Forest of Tyto, believes in the existence of the legendary warriors, the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, a mythical band of owls that have pledged their lives to mend the broken, vanquish evil and protect the owl kingdoms from harm.
When Soren and his brother Kludd (voice of Ryan Kwanten) are snatched up by the Pure Ones—evil owls who want to conquer those who are not of their “elite” tyto type and to make soldiers out of the ones who are—Soren holds out hope that his heroes not only exist, but that he can find them and enlist their aid in saving all of owlkind.
“Jim brought a real sense of wonderment to Soren,” Snyder says. “In a world of realists, Soren believes the dream, and Jim really captured that.”
Like his director, Sturgess was new to animation and says it took some time to find the right balance in voicing a character without over- or under-playing it. “A lot of film acting is what you do with your face and what’s going on behind your eyes,” he relates. “And Soren has such an enthusiastic spirit, I thought I would have to really amp up my performance to convey that. But after I started playing with the character a bit, I realized I didn’t need to overdo it, that it wasn’t going to be flat just because I wouldn’t be seen. There would be a character with wonderful facial expressions, thanks to the talents of our animators.”
In the end, Sturgess’s initial qualms about voice acting were more than quelled. “It was a little mind-blowing to see my voice coming from this owl’s face,” Sturgess smiles, “with his eyes telling the story just as I would hope mine would have if it were me on screen.”
Even those times when he was on one continent and his director was on another, technology bridged the gap. “Zack was always there during the recording sessions—on Skype or talking to me through a television. It could’ve been strange, but he’s so expressive in the way he describes things and so passionate and intelligent about how he views the material, that we went through the scenes and he directed me like he would if we were together, making a live-action film. It worked out great.”
Opening across the Philippines on Friday, Sept. 24 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D and regular format, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.