Cruz and Julia meet their French voices

 By Isabelle Caron et Mireille Touboul, Télé 7 Jours, 1988

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"Hello Cruz, sorry Mr. Martinez...
- Hello Michel."
This is the historical meeting. That of A Martinez, who plays the role of Cruz Castillo, and his French voice, Michel Bedetti. This last one supervises, moreover, all the doubling of the show of TF1. He did not come alone to Los Angeles. Accompanied by Deborah Perret, who lends her voice to Julia Wainwright, the lawyer, played by Nancy Grahn. This one is there too and greets her French voice cordially... "I could not be Cruz two days per week and not to know him, explains Michel Bedetti. That makes almost three years that I speak at his place in the French version and, as TF1 has just bought four new years of the show, it was the time I should know him."

Michel does not look like A Martinez at all physically. "We however are from the same actors family. As soon as I saw him on screen, I understood that we were made to get along. Now that I know him well, I do not need to make effort. I know the kind of jokes he will make, I feel them and I play them by anticipation. I have fun with him. While meeting him, I have been a little astonished by his timidity. I appreciated, in any case, his love for his job. He said to me : "We have luck to be actors." "For my part, Deborah says, I wanted to know if the role of Julia was going to become more significant." Here she is fixed and satisfied. Nancy Grahn told her how the writers and the producers had suddenly pushed her on the first ground. "We became close very quickly, explains Deborah. Initially, we physically look like each other. Moreover, when we saw each other the first time, a few moments ago, we looked at ourselves and we laughed a lot. We also discovered that we were both lefts-handed persons and that we speak very quickly. Like me, she does many grimaces when she speaks. And, like me, she eats all the time. We threw ourselves together on the pop-corns and we are both mad of chocolate."

Deborah and Nancy exchange their addresses and promise to write to the other. Nancy swears that she will visit Deborah in France one day. Although that is not necessary (and not envisaged in the contracts !), Michael and Deborah estimate that it is indispensable to know the actor you double. "Initially because that creates exchanges and then you better feel the actors you double and everything is easier", explains Michel. Deborah adds : "The advantage of a show, compared to films and TV movies, it is that you end up well knowing the character and that you succeed to know, by advance, what will be his reactions. When I see Julia deciding something, I give her reason, I defend her. I do not think I am her, but finally..."

Deborah and Michel also met other heroes of Santa Barbara. Lane Davies (Mason) tells them that he has just bought a big wooden house and that he will leave the show, for only one month, in order to play in a part of Shakespeare. "Theatre is my great love", he says. He also entrusts to us that he would like to see Mason happier. Now divorced from Victoria, he lives with Julia with who he has a little girl. Will he marry Julia ? Lane Davies, respecting the instructions of the producers, does not want to reveal any secret. Todd McKee, who plays Ted Capwell, finds our two French very sympathetic. "Deborah is very pretty", he says. On the other hand, Deborah and Michel would like to see Ted Capwell finally in love with a girl of his size. "He always has to bend down in his love scenes. That is a pity", Deborah says. Judith McConnell, who plays Sophia Capwell, is there too to welcome the French voices. "My preferred city, she says, is Paris." With Deborah and Michel, we walk in the studio where is shot Santa Barbara. "It looks like a clinic so much it is clean", Michel says. What especially impressed him, it is the American way of working. No mixed decorations, they are all aligned, the one close to the other, on the right and on the left from the immense stage, separated by a long alley to facilitate the angles shifts of the cameras and the comings and goings of the technicians. "That is what we would like to see in France ! Here you really shoot in a professional way."

1. Patrick Laval (Nick Hartley) 2. Luc Florian (Warren Lockridge) 3. Jean Roche (Brick Wallace) 4. Deborah Perret (Julia Wainwright) 5. Serge Bourrier (Jack Stanfield Lee) 6. Jean-Pierre Leroux (Kirk Cranston) 7. Danielle Volle (Eden Capwell) 8. Michel Bedetti (Cruz Castillo) 9. Nadine Delanoë (Kelly Capwell) 10. Raphaële Moutier (Janice Harrison) 11. Dominique Dumont (Laken Lockridge)

In Paris, in the studios of SOFI, the company specialized in voices doubling directed by Michel Salva, one would believe oneself in the United States so much all is thoroughly regulated. "Initially, we listen to the American version, explains Michel. We look at what the actors do on the image and, immediately, we restore in French, by possibly correcting the text, not always good. The dialogists make errors of sense, misinterpretation and, as I am bilingual, I restore it. It is an amazing work. We also have to change words so that doubling fits tight with the lips. Every breath is counted. Some actors find that too difficult but here we form a real team like the actors. Like them, we love, we suffer, we cry, we vibrate." Every Monday and Tuesday, as when they welcomed us, Michel and his team, after a breakfast at the nearest bar, close themselves in a room at SOFI and double some twenty-four minutes episodes. "The international version does not include any noise, explains Michel. We thus need a sound-effects man to make the steps, to bang the doors, etc. For our part, we double the voices. The delivery time to TF1 (the channel which aired the show in France) is short and it is necessary to work very quickly. Fortunately, all our actors can work without stopping for the main roles but also the guests, the episodic ones !"

The actors concerned with a scene settle now in front of a large screen. "We watch the image, tells Michel Bedetti. Below, there is a white belt with a black bar on the left. The French text passes on this belt. When the text passes on the bar, we have to pronounce the corresponding syllable to be synchronous. All that, in addition to play and to change the words that do not work. It is not as easy as it seems because it is not only necessary to be an actor but also to control this particular technique. What is strange, it is that in that job, actors who make doubling are underestimated. Especially the directors who, oddly, agree to shoot advertising and never find that humiliating. An actor must be able to make some TV, some cinema, some theatre and to synchronize."

Danielle Volle (Eden Capwell), Julien Thomast (Mason Capwell), Anne Rochant (Sophia Capwell), Michel Bedetti (Cruz Castillo), Olivier Destrez (Ted Capwell) and Monique Thierry (Gina DeMott)

But you are a lot to appreciate and defend these actors of the shadow. Deborah explains : "We are always asked, outside of the studio, to reveal the future intrigues of Santa Barbara. The show has so much success." Michel Bedetti had time, for three years, to work on the analysis of the success of Santa Barbara : "There are scenes which happen in all the classes. Each part of the society can recognize itself in Santa Barbara, which impassions the employers as much as the employees. There are the loves between Sophia and C.C. Capwell, between Ted Capwell and Laken Lockridge, Cruz Castillo and Eden Capwell. There are the poor ones, the less poor, the rich and the less rich. Those who follow this show await "their scene". I only regret the disappearance of the Lockridges. Between the two families, it was the fight of the Capulets and the Montaigus..."

There will be very soon, if I believe the confidences of the producers of Santa Barbara, a role for a French actor. "Perhaps even Michel Bedetti, entrusted to me one of the producers. He speaks English and we liked him a lot. With the success of our show in France, we may find it very beneficial to create a role for a French. We owe you that well !"

Click on the photos to enlarge them
Michel Bedetti, Nancy Lee Grahn, Deborah Perret and A Martinez, Marcy Walker and her French voice Danielle Volle, Gilles Sinclair the interpreter of the French generic of Santa Barbara and Marcy Walker