For Craig T. Nel­son, role in an­i­ma­tion is In­cred­i­ble

Times Colonist - - Go - RICK BENT­LEY

LOS AN­GE­LES — Craig T. Nel­son put to­gether a var­ied col­lec­tion of act­ing cred­its through the first 30 years of his ca­reer. Al­though he starred in mul­ti­ple tele­vi­sion se­ries and ap­peared in nu­mer­ous fea­ture films, one type of act­ing job had eluded him.

“I had never been a voice in an an­i­mated film be­fore I was of­fered the part of Mr. In­cred­i­ble in The In­cred­i­bles, ” Nel­son said. “I was in Hawaii and just watched Iron Gi­ant for the fourth time and re­mem­ber very specif­i­cally say­ing: ‘You know some­thing. Why can’t I do some­thing like that? I want to do one of those. Who do I talk to?’ ”

In what still re­mains a mys­tery to Nel­son, two weeks later, he got the script for the an­i­mated movie about a fam­ily of su­per­heroes writ­ten by Brad Bird, the man be­hind Iron Gi­ant. Nel­son jumped at the chance to be part of the an­i­mated film that went on to be a hit with fans and crit­ics. It ended up tak­ing home the 2004 Acad­emy Award for best an­i­mated fea­ture.

The only clue to why Bird thought of Nel­son is over the years, he has played a lot of fa­ther fig­ures. That has not been by choice, but Nel­son knows a lot of peo­ple think of him that way.

It has taken 14 years, but Nel­son has re­turned to the record­ing stu­dio for In­cred­i­bles 2. The ac­tion picks up im­me­di­ately af­ter the first movie with the fam­ily mem­bers try­ing to deal with a world where us­ing su­per­pow­ers is against the law. A fast-talk­ing sales­man (Bob Odenkirk) has come up with a plan that will change the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of su­per­heroes and get the law changed. It wouldn’t be an ac­tion movie if some­thing big didn’t go wrong.

Nel­son is joined by Holly Hunter, who voices He­len/Elasti­girl, plus Sarah Vow­ell and Huck Mil­ner, who voice their chil­dren. Other voice tal­ents in­clude Sa­muel L. Jackson, Catherine Keener and Sophia Bush.

Af­ter the first movie was re­leased, Nel­son was con­stantly asked when a se­quel would be pro­duced. The Spokane, Washington, na­tive was cer­tain af­ter the first movie was re­leased that a se­quel would be made within three or four years, but that time­frame came and went as Bird stuck to his state­ment that he would only make an In­cred­i­bles se­quel when he had the right idea for the script.

As time passed, it was frus­trat­ing for Nel­son, but all he could say was he had no idea when a se­quel would be made. In the in­terim, he con­tin­ued to work in an as­sort­ment of live-ac­tion projects, in­clud­ing a star­ring role on NBC’s Par­ent­hood. Nel­son was most re­cently seen in the fea­ture film Book Club.

The va­ri­ety of work Nel­son has done has not been some great act­ing plan on his part. At times, his de­ci­sion was as sim­ple as want­ing to work with a cer­tain di­rec­tor or ac­tor. It was the chance to work with Mar­lon Brando and Ge­orge C. Scott that was the big at­trac­tion for Nel­son with the 1980 film The For­mula. He not only got to work with the leg­endary ac­tors, but Nel­son learned a les­son from Brando that stuck with him and be­came par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant when he started work on the first In­cred­i­bles movie.

“We are shoot­ing in Chatsworth at an oil field out there. We fi­nally get to the scene and it’s late in the af­ter­noon. We have been there since early morn­ing. We shoot the scene and the first thing Brando does is go to the sound cart.

“He asks the guy to play back the scene. He gets the ear­phones and lis­tens. When he fin­ishes I ask him what he’s do­ing. He says: ‘Let me tell you some­thing. This is an au­dio medium. It is not visual. I got to hear the truth and then I can play it.’

“Af­ter The For­mula, it started me lis­ten­ing to films and TV shows. Just lis­ten­ing. It was so rev­e­la­tory.”

Nel­son re­lates Brando’s words to what is go­ing on with the record­ing ses­sions for the an­i­mated movies. He has watched Bird lis­ten for the truth in the vo­cal per­for­mances. All fa­cial ex­pres­sions, body lan­guage and hand move­ments have been stripped away.

Be­cause of Brando, Nel­son feels com­fort­able do­ing an­i­ma­tion work when he gets the rare op­por­tu­nity to be cast in such a role.


The char­ac­ter He­len/Elasti­girl, is voiced by Holly Hunter, and Craig T. Nel­son re­turns as the voice of Bob/Mr. In­cred­i­ble in In­cred­i­bles 2.

Craig T. Nel­son

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