Much has been said about the tone, the twangs and the accents the voice actors use in the hit Netflix anime series “Trese.” But perhaps because she supplied the voice of main protagonist Alexandra Trese in the Filipino dub, no other actor in the cast has gotten as much attention as Liza Soberano.
Liza has said previously that her favorite character in the “Trese” universe is really Alexandra herself, a private investigator of crimes of the supernatural kind. She relates to the role and at the same time admires the persona. She loves Alexandra’s independence, her courage and her badass moves. “She’s always fighting for what is right and I can definitely relate to that. I’m not afraid to speak my mind,” said Liza who’s made news a few times before for telling it like it is on her social media platforms.
The teleserye star approached the challenge of playing Alexandra Trese with the same honesty she exhibits in real life, bravely laying out her cards from the get go.
“Liza was very wonderful to work with because she was very honest from the very start,” says dubbing director Rudolf Baldonado Jr. at a press conference hosted by Netflix early this week for Trese’s voice directors. “The first time I met her she already told me she was scared because it was her first anime, it was her first time to dub something like this.”
The young actress came into the project knowing she’s not merely going to read words to a microphone. “She knows that she has this twang with Tagalog words. She knows what her voice quality is. And I appreciate that in any artist because she knows where she’s coming from and she knows what she needs to work on,” explains Rudolf who’s been in the translation/dubbing business for more than two decades, working with such heavyweights as Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. He also happens to be the official voice of the Filipino dubbed Spongebob Squarepants.
To be able to really understand the rigors that playing the Pinoy Alexandra Trese demanded, or the challenges of voicing for the characters in the anime’s Filipino version, Rudolf says one must know that the job is not about simply supplying voices to mouths that move. While the dubbing crew and voice actors who did the original English version got to create a work from scratch, the dubbing crew and actors for the Filipino version have to work with the finished English version. Voice actors need to be chosen with not only the visuals in mind but the unique characteristics each of the English version actors imbued their performances with. “That in a way is another level of difficulty, because it’s not just duplicating or imitating but replicating an already wonderful performance,” says Rudolf. “So we also had to choose voice actors who could deliver that same passion, that same intensity, that same everything the entire English cast started.”
What followed was a one-on-one coaching session with Liza. “We were addressing three very important things,” explains the dubbing director. “Like I said, honestly, her voice, her language skills in Tagalog, and of course the acting.” Liza had to fashion her performance so that it matches as many elements of the original including intensity.
“So imagine she’s trying to focus on three things and we were on a tight deadline but she was very cooperative,” offers Rudolf. He says there were two or three meetings before the actual recording sessions where he gave the US-born Fil-Am star some vocal exercises—“to get that lower register because as you know she has this naturally sweet head tone, and the language of course, she needed to have that tough Filipino tongue so she won’t say Filipino words with a twang.”
The short amount of time to get things done was a major factor. “Going into recording I guess one thing I would want to say is I really wish we both had time because Lisa and I just really wanted to record on and on,” says Rudolf, “to just go back and improve what we just did, or do another take for everything, but time was of the essence. She was so cooperative all throughout. And I saw how she really poured herself into the work and gave her best, and what you see on Netflix is just a labor of love for both of us and the whole cast.”
While there are those who say the teleserye star’s voice is perfect for the part, criticism has also come Liza’s way. Which is perhaps why “Trese” producer and director Jay Oliva on Tuesday, took to Twitter to express his own take on the actress’ performance, along with the performance of the Alexandra Trese of the English version, Shay Mitchell.
Jay said that when he spoke to “Trese” creator Budjette Tan, the latter told him he envisioned the character of Alexandra to be like that of Batman. "She's cold and unemotional at times because of all the things she's experienced in life,” wrote the Fil-Am creative in his tweet.
Having directed a couple of Batman animation projects—“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Batman, The Dark Knight Returns”—the guy naturally knows a thing or two about “tortured souls who persevere to do right and defend those who cannot defend themselves.” He said both Shay and Liza delivered “unique performances that was better than what I could have imagined.”