One Cast, Many Voices
Jim Cartwright had written "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice" with Jane Horrocks in mind because he knew of her rare gift for impersonations, both vocal and sung
Jim Cartwright had written "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice"
with Jane Horrocks in mind because he knew of her rare gift for
impersonations, both vocal and sung. When he found himself enchanted
by the story of a repressed young woman who seeks refuge in other
people's voices, he knew right away the character was heaven-sent
Mark Herman realized from the start that the film would not be
the same without Horrocks' touch. "LITTLE VOICE is Jane's
baby," comments Herman. "I wouldn't be doing the film
without her. She has lived with the character for so many years
it is a part of her. Happily, she had trust in me as a filmmaker
and knew that I wanted to protect what the story is about."
Adds Elizabeth Karlsen: "What makes her so perfect is that
she is physically very tiny, with this wonderful, childlike face
and haircut - yet out of this fragile figure comes this unbelievably
Horrocks explains her hallmark character as "a simple, humble
and unprecocious girl on the verge of an awakening." She
continues: "I think LV and her father were two little quiet
people who enjoyed listening to old records. Since his death,
her mother has hurt her so much that their relationship has gone
beyond forgiveness. LV has to escape before she can develop as
Making the transformation from meek homebody to night-club ingenue
was an even bigger challenge on the screen for Horrocks than it
was on the stage. Early on, the filmmakers made a bold decision
to shoot Little Voice's singular musical performance entirely
live, instead of recording the vocal tracks and synching them
with her stage show.
"A lot of the magic that was created in the theatre version
was through the incredible live performance of Jane Horrocks,
watching that happen before your very eyes," says Mark Herman.
"Even on stage, a lot of people left the theatre wondering
if she really sang all those different voices herself. So we thought
it was very important that no one think there was any trick to
it. I thought it had to feel like it was happening in the here
and now. Technically, it was extremely difficult, but it definitely
"After having seen what Jane is capable of, I knew it was
possible," adds Elizabeth Karlsen. "That sequence really
fits in with the raw immediacy that is so much a part of the film.
We didn't want something over-produced or too showy. It had to
be all Little Voice. And even though it was a difficult and challenging
process, Jane was doggedly focussed, hard-working and of course
"Singing live is a very rare thing in film," admits
Horrocks, "but the audience had to absolutely believe Little
Voice is doing it. And if for a second they think that it's not
really happening, you've lost the whole piece."
Despite her much-lauded gift for mimicry, Horrocks worked with
a singing teacher for six weeks prior to filming to hone her impersonations
even further. "I approached the singing in a more detailed
way for the film," she explains. "We went through the
songs line by line so we would get every single little inflection
as close to the original as possible. Through this process, I
found the essence of each of the singers even more." Horrocks
also worked with a choreographer for the main club act scene.
"I really felt like I was very in tune with each of the differe
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