The one thing that most stands out in the new film Snowden is not the return of Oliver Stone to the director's chair in a controversial film about American history; nor is it the film's purported accuracy (or inaccuracies) related to the events of Edward Snowden's alleged NSA leak; nor is it even the fact that the movie deals with a current legal situation that still remains unresolved today. No, the most striking aspect of the film is the Edward Snowden voice used by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Seriously, what's the deal with that voice? Where did it come from?
The actor received criticism from some camps when the first Snowden trailer hit the web and people heard his Snowden impression, but to the people closest to the real Snowden, Gordon-Levitt's vocals were actually astoundingly accurate. During a livestream appearance at Comic-Con for a screening of the film, Snowden was asked about said voice. And while he didn't have his own personal opinion on it, he admitted that his family thought it sounded just like him. "Some of my family members have said, 'He sounds just like you,'" Snowden said, according to BuzzFeed's Jarett Wieselman. "I can't hear it — the voice in your head is never the same thing. But if he can pass the family test, he's doing alright."
Since Snowden is famous, and many people have heard his voice, Gordon-Levitt really wanted to put in the extra effort to get the sound right. The voice Gordon-Levitt uses in the movie is in a far deeper register than his actual speaking voice, and getting to that point was no easy feat. The actor told Vanity Fair's Yohana Desta that he listened to clips of Snowden constantly in preparation for the role, even going so far as to take the audio from the Snowden documentary Citeznfour and listen to it over and over again on his headphones. From there, he just worked on mimicking the voice until he sounded like what he was listening to.
So, how did Joseph Gordon-Levitt end up sounding like Edward Snowden? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: Practice, practice, practice.
Images: Open Road Films