With the Halloween season upon us, we welcome the idea that fictional witches are making a steady appearance. Whether it’s in commercials, home decor, or movies, the witches are here. But here’s the thing. Those in the know recognize that witches are “in” no matter the season. There is just something inherently cool about a magical woman who can cast spells and fly on a broomstick. I’ve been a voice actor for over ten years and offer voiceover services of all kinds. But I have a huge soft spot for portraying witch-like characters and doing witch voiceover.
Witch Voiceover Acting — A Special Skill
We know that witches can use their powers for good and are right at home as a protagonist in a story. But the real fun begins when witches are cast as villains. Many brands and companies will hire voice actors to play the witchy villain. They’re looking for somebody who can pull off the particular sound of a witch’s voice. It’s often shrill, shrieky, and maniacal — although every witch is different. When you’re looking for the voiceover of a particular witch character, you’ve come to the right place!
If you’re looking for a friendly, animated witch or one who’s wicked to her core, I offer a variety of witchy voiceover services. Legend has it that I keep a framed photo of Ursula the Sea Witch in my at-home studio, and I’m here to tell you that the rumors are true. It’s my voiceover north star.
A Brief History of Voicing “Wicked Witches”
Why is there such a fixation on the witch as a character? I could spend thousands of words talking about the history of witches (witch hunts and witchcraft in a sociological context). But we’ll leave that to the history book writers. Let’s look at witch-themed characters in recent media and the voice actors who play(ed) them.
The 1930s: The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)
As a child, the Evil Queen from Snow White used to terrify me. However, rewatches during my adult years have only made me appreciate such bone-chilling voice acting. We’re supposed to be afraid of “the Queen” — she feeds people poisoned apples, for Pete’s sake — and the style of voice acting definitely makes sure we understand how dangerous she is.
The Evil Queen was played by Adriana Caselotti, who later went on to be named a “Disney Legend” in 1994. She was the first woman to hold this title (1994 seems a little too recent for comfort, don’t you think?)
The 1950s to present: Witch Hazel (Looney Tunes)
Many people forget that Looney Tunes actually has a witch character. Yup, it’s not all about the bunny, pig, or duck. Witch Hazel, apart from being a hilarious play on words, is also the name of a villain who — wait for it — lures children away so she can eat them. The mid-20th century just had a different concept of what makes good kid’s TV, didn’t it?
Witch Hazel was initially voiced by Bea Benaderet, a comedian turned actress known for voicing animated female characters.
The 1950s: Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
As much as sleeping for 100 or so years sounds super appealing at times, it wouldn’t be fun if you had Maleficent the witch as an enemy. Okay, so I think Maleficent is technically a fairy, but something about her brooding voice acting is very evil, witch-like. She was voiced by Elanor Audley in the Disney movie, who was also famous for her voice acting on radio shows.
The 1980s: Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
My personal favorite villain. There is just so much to love about Ursula. In fact, I don’t think that she gets anywhere near enough credit. Sure, she’s evil, but she’s also a woman on a mission, and I respect that. When I grew up loving the voiceovers of Disney characters, I always loved Ursula more than Ariel or any other Disney princesses.
Plus, there’s Pat Carroll’s classic interpretation of the character. A legendary actress, Carroll only recently passed away in 2022. In her lifetime, she was a recipient of an Emmy, Grammy, and Tony awards. She even used her vocal talents in “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” which you can’t deny is a bop.
The 2000s: Yubaba (Spirited Away)
Spirited Away is one of the most beloved Studio Ghibli movies, and for good reason. This magical film tells the story of a young girl who enters into a world with Kami, who are famous spirits in Japanese folktales. She must take a job with the Yubaba to save her family.
Yubaba is a witch who works as a bathhouse operator. In the English-language interpretation, Yubaba is played by Suzanne Pleshette. Pleshette was known for her airy and sultry vocals, perfect for witchcraftery.
Present Day: Red Bull Witch
Yes, you know Red Bull Gives You Wings. Have you ever thought about how convenient this fact is for witches? This means they hardly have to be good at riding a broomstick. That’s the idea behind the recent advertising campaign from Red Bull.
The Red Bull witch’s voiceover is classic — shrill and wispy. And, of course, the lines are funny, engaging, and very witchy! I just love how she interacts with her teenage-witch daughter! The Red Bull Witch Voiceover performer uses different resonators to create a melodious and witchy sound!
Maria Pendolino: Nice Person, Great Voiceover, Mean Voiceover Characters
Now that I think about it, I love playing witches so much because it’s so different from how I behave in my everyday life. I love all kinds of voice acting, whether narrating an e-Learning video, providing corporate training, or performing a commercial. But I genuinely have a soft spot for any sort of dramatic animated character, especially those of the witchy persuasion.