While early voice over actors earned a dime and sometimes found fame on radio and behind cartoon characters, during the middle and later part of the 20th century movie trailers kept many employed. In fact, one voice-over actor is believed to have narrated trailers for around 5000 movies.

Let’s look at the voice over actors behind what is likely to be some of your favourite movies. We’ll also explain why work for voice over artists in movie trailers seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Voice over actors and movie trailers

The voice over actor we refer to above, who recorded around 5000 movies trailers, is Don LaFontaine. It was a feat that gave him the nickname “The King of Movie Trailers”. Obviously, we can’t include even a fraction of his movie trailers in this post, but they include Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Batman Returns, Home Alone, Rambo First Blood and Happy Gilmore.

Here are some other voice over actors who have become famous – or at least their voice has – for movie trailers:

Don LaFontaine

Don LaFontaine was an American voice actor who recorded more than 5,000 film trailers and hundreds of thousands of television advertisements, network promotions, and video game trailers.

Hal Douglas

Hal Douglas is the voice behind trailers for movies such as Lethal Weapon, Forrest Gump, Men in Black and Con Air. Along with Don LaFontaine,

Hal is considered the most famous movie trailer voice over actor of all time.

Redd Pepper

When compared to Don LaFontaine, Redd has a mere 100 movie trailers to his name, but many of the movies have been big hits. They include

  • Independence Day
  • Men in Black
  • Armageddon and
  • The Blair Witch Project

Percy Rodriguez

Percy Rodriguez is the next voice over actor who you’ve probably heard before as part of his movie trailer work. He did movie trailers for The Exorcist, Coming to America, Jaws and Star Wars, to name a few.

Charles Aidman

Dennis the Menace, Gremlins, Beverly Hills Cop, Crocodile Dundee and Poltergeist were among the movie trailers voiced by Charles Aidman. As well as his voice over work, Aidman was an actor, author, director and composer. Not bad for a guy who originally planned to be an attorney.

By now you’ve perhaps noticed a common theme in the voice over actors listed above. Yes, they’re all men. Movie trailers are almost exclusively narrated in a deep, gravelly voice, so male voice over artists have dominated the domain. However, it’s perhaps fair to say that the dominance of males is more about familiarity than anything else, with the audience practically conditioned to expect a male voice.

What happened to movie trailers?

While movie trailers were huge in the 20th century, today they are rarely used. In fact, according to Globe and Mail, we have to look way back to 1994 for the peak of voice over movie trailers, when all top-10 movies for the year used a voice over actor in their trailer

Globe and Mail say the main reasons for the lack of voice overs in movie trailers is due to a variety of reasons, overuse included. Movie trailers in the 21st century are also used differently. Instead of mainly being shown before movies in cinemas, today they can be found right across the Internet. In addition, movie producers know that audiences don’t need a narrator to communicate details about a movie.

Thankfully, there is still plenty of work for voice over actors, both men and women.  They can now be found – or their voices can – in TV programs, radio and TV commercials, e-lessons, audiobooks, video games, apps, corporate videos and much, much more.