What would it be like to be a ... Voice Actor?

We asked Alan Oppenheimer – the voice of Falkor and G'mork in The Neverending Story– about being a voice actor. We have been reading Michael Ende's novel The Neverending Story this year and discussed which character was our favourite. Falkor was an obvious standout!

We are very grateful to Mr Oppenheimer for answering our questions in this interview about how he became the characters.


G'day Mr Oppenheimer,

Here are our questions:

How did you get chosen to be the voices of Falkorand G’mork? (Aline & Maggie)

Well, ladies, I had to audition here in Los Angeles and I was absolutely praying that I would get the role, because the director, Wolfgang Peterson, had directed brilliantly the movie, DAS BOAT. (I don’t know if I spelled BOAT correctly because it’s the story of a U Boat in World War II.)

We looked it up: it’ spelled as ‘Das Boot’, and it has nothing to do with shoes ...!

Alan voiced both the friendly luckdragon Falkor and the villainous werewolf Gmork

Where did you record the voices? (Maggie & Jack)

They sent me to Munich, Germany to record the voice, and I was there several days, but it took me 2 days to record Falkor because I wasn’t happy with my first day’s work, and I asked Mr. Peterson if I could do the whole thing over again after I saw it put together. In my mind my voice and approach didn’t match the sweetness of that white woolly creature.

How did you make Falkor's voice sound like a "brass bell”? (Ellie, Caitlin, Daniel & Caitie)

If you think it sounded like a brass bell, that is because of the voice placement I used. By that I mean, how I produced the voice in my larynx, and the modulation I used for him.
This is the larynx and it's where Alan uses his voice to change his volume, timing and pitch.

Where did you get the idea for their voices? (Sydney & Caitie)

I got the idea for Falkor’s voice by looking at the model of him, and watching some of the flying and what his facial expressions were. It all starts with identifying with a character and then using your imagination to produce a voice for that character. When I hear a playback of any voice work I do, be it movie, cartoon or commercial, if it seems off for me, I ask the director to let me take another run at it, because once I’ve heard the final product for that take I can usually tell what it ought to be.

Falkor flying!

Which voice is your favourite? [If not from this movie then from your career] (Clancey & Jack)

I do love Falkor, and some other favorites that I’ve done are Skeletor from He Man, Masters of the Universe, and Vanity Smurf. I also like Scooby Doo’s cousin, Scooby Dum.

Alan has voiced many different characters: here is Skeletor, Vanity Smurf and Scooby Dum.

Have you met any of the other actors from the movie? (Elsa, Connor & Caitlin)

No, I never met any of them in person, because I worked alone in Munich with the director and sound engineer.

Did you ever see the Falkor and Gmork puppets? (Aurora)

You know, I think I did see Falkor when I was in Germany, but I can’t be sure of that.

Do you have any funny stories about your time working on the movie? (Atisha)

Since I was doing voice work and the picture had already been completed, there really weren’t any funny stories to tell, but, oh, could I tell some beauties about other movies and TV shows I’ve done, but that’s not part of this The Neverending Story interview!

OK, well maybe one story... I loved doing Westerns, both on TV and movies, and I did about 5 TV westerns including 3 Bonanza’s. And the movie Little Big Man, but I have a slight problem with horses. I’m allergic to them: I sneeze, my eyes water, I itch etc, so I would have to take an antihistamine (a tablet for these problems) before riding, and sometimes I think the horses knew my weakness, because they wouldn’t respond to my reins and heel. But oh, how I loved to ride and gallop, sometimes sneezing and always itching.

We haven't a photo of Alan wheezing whilst riding, but here are some pictures of his characters he played on Star Trek: Keogh (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine); Koroth (Star Trek: The Next Generation) & Nezu Ambassador (Star Trek: Voyager)

What is your favourite part of the movie? (Jasmine & Alex)

I love when we are flying at the end and swoop down on the bully boys and see them run into the dumpster to get away from us, and I love the laugh I created for Falkor.

Alan's favourite moment in the movie when Bastian & Falkor are after the bullies.

Do you talk in character voices when you are at home? (Atisha)

Well, now that’s an interesting question. Sometimes we do improvs - my friend and I - and then I could be a Southerner from Mississippi, or Humphrey Bogart, or Jack Benny, or Fred Allen. These are all people from my early days when I listened to radio (before TV was invented). I was sick a great deal when I was 6 and 8, and so staying home and listening to the radio made me want to become an actor. I have what’s called a “good ear” and can imitate a lot of people if I hear them speak.


If, in the future, The Neverending Storywere to be remade, what advice would you give the voice actor chosen to be Falkor? (Mr Williams)

I’d tell him to turn down the role and get me for the part again!

You know, I wish I were there to answer your questions in person and see your eagerness. I think it’s wonderful you have Mr. Williams as your teacher and that he goes to the trouble to contact people in various professions for their story. Thank you for this opportunity to be with you. Love and luck to you all.

Thank you so much, Mr Oppenheimer, for your answers.

We have really enjoyed the novel of The Neverending Story and now we have a greater insight into the movie. The next time we see the movie we’ll be especially listening to the voices of Falkor and Gmork and thinking of you and your fantastic work.

Jack and Aurora did profile pictures of Falkor, and ALine pictures the Greenskin warrior Atreyu riding the luckdragon.
Who wouldn't want a ride on this Falkor? Caitie has done a great job creating him.

Atisha, Ronya & Alejandro have certainly created some nasty-looking Gmorks!

Ellie has certainly captured Gmork in his finest furry coat!