Malaysian actor Sean Lee caused a media frenzy when it was announced that he would be voicing a character in an animated DC film – making him the first Malaysian to do so too. We had a quick chat with Sean about how he landed the role in Warner Bros’ latest DC League of Super-Pets (which releases in theatres July 28) and what the process was like.
When 27-year-old Malaysian actor Sean Lee received a call from Warner Bros. to voice an animated character, he knew he had to say yes. Sean Lee, or Oppa Sean to his fans, has built quite an impressive yet extensive list of achievements under his belt. As a notable name in the industry, he’s known for his iconic roles as Jai Wu in My Coffee Prince, Karl in Sweet Dreams and Dr Adams in 7 Hari Mencintaiku. Besides acting, he has garnered various opportunities by hosting hilarious game shows and prominent award shows such as I Can See Your Voice. Currently, he hosts TV3 Malaysia’s MBUZZ by reporting on the hottest trending topics in the country. Next stop? Hollywood.
Debuting on July 28, the DC League of Super-Pets marks his first step into Hollywood as an adorable Boston Terrier dog named Waffles.
“The opportunity to be involved in an animated film is a blessing, especially for a character voiceover. Growing up and watching animated movies, it was always a dream of mine to star in one; landing this role is a miracle. I’m honoured to represent Malaysia in a special edit of an international film!” expresses Sean.
Sean shared that he created a backstory for the character by envisioning Waffles as a brutally honest dog hailing from Subang Jaya, Malaysia. As a Subang boy himself, he knew he had to put his own spin on the character embodying the perfect Malaysian dog. As Sean strives on the importance of adding a local touch, it does sound amazing to hear a fellow Malaysian on screen alongside big star-studded names such as Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Keanu Reeves, John Krasinski and beyond.
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DC League of Super-Pets is an upcoming superhero comedy about Krypto the Super-Dog (Dwayne Johnson) and Superman (played by John Krasinski) as they share the same superpowers and fight crime in the city of Metropolis. When Superman and the Justice League are kidnapped, Krypto must form a team to save his best friend and the other superheroes before it’s too late.
A chat with Sean Lee on DC League of Super-Pets
How did you land the role, and how did you feel when you found out you were voicing Waffles?
I received an email from Warner Bros. stating that they wanted to work on a secret project and asked if I was interested in being a part of it. I tell everyone whenever you receive an email from the big players like Warner Bros. or any other studios you might encounter, it’s always good to say yes. That’s what I did. This opportunity is different because it’s nothing compared to the usual dubbing done in Bahasa Melayu for an international film. This existing character (Waffles) was picked to give a local flair, and it’s an amazing experience to be selected by Warner Bros. for a localised cast.
How does it feel about lending your voice to an adorable dog character, especially in a DC animated movie?
It was interesting because I was born in the Year of the Dog under the Chinese zodiac, so I feel like the stars were aligned when Warner Bros. reached out to me. At that moment, I knew I had to say yes. Plus, the 2008 animated film Bolt is my favourite. I’ve always wished I could voice a character like Bolt someday, so you can imagine how excited I was when the opportunity landed on my lap. Plus, Warner Bros. did an amazing job with this film, and the pets are super adorable. Look out for Waffles in the earliest bits of the movie – you won’t miss it.
What was the experience like filming and voicing your part here in Malaysia?
Honestly, the working relationship between Warner Bros. and myself was pretty fluid because they are very open to my input on how we can make things more natural and Malaysian. We recorded the voiceover here in Malaysia and sent it to Warner Bros. in America for editing.
They came up with the base script for my part in the film and worked together on how we could make the process more natural for me to speak. Voice acting is similar to visual acting, so I created this backstory to give my dialogue a bit more weight. I thought about how I could embody myself in the character. Since I spent most of my life in Subang, I began to throw in various Malaysian slang to localise it and give Waffles an identity. This is so viewers can easily recognise the voice and acknowledge that this is indeed a Malaysian character. We tried avoiding stereotypes and incorporating sentences in Bahasa Melayu just because we Malaysians tend to mix it up and not speak in a specific accent. As much as we wanted to add the local touch, I tried not to go overboard with the slang or accents and embraced myself more.
Was there any special preparation needed to voice an animated character?
We emphasise on warming up the vocals. Before entering the studio, I took some time off to do vocal warmups and other preparations I learned during theatre, such as humming, lip buzz and more.
What’s next for you? Are there any new projects lined up?
I want to focus more on directing, and hopefully, next year, I can direct a telemovie if all goes well. I just finished starring in my first horror genre drama and am currently working on another drama right now. Besides that, I’m opening my cafe, Atap Rooftop Cafe, in Ipoh, Perak. Keep a lookout for more updates.
Lastly, if you were to pick one animated film to be involved in – what would it be and why?
I would love to be in an animated film like Disney’s Turning Red. I find myself intrigued by stories that involve a cultural heritage element. It’s beautiful, and it would be great to see a portrayal of our culture and Malaysian families through an animated film.
(All images: Warner Bros.)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur