Meet Johnny Depp's Spanish Double

Ricardo Tejedo Spanish voice Johnny Depp

Ricardo Tejedo is a busy man thanks to Johnny Depp. The Mexican voice-over actor voices all of Johnny Depp's movies in Spanish for Mexico and Latin America markets. Most recently Ricardo doubled for Johnny's Spanish voice in Rango, now on DVD and Blu-ray, and the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Ricardo also dubs the Spanish voice for Brad Pitt and Ben Stiller but has earned his bread and butter from the dozens of Johnny Depp's movies such as Chocolat, Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, and Rango. The Mexican actor also directs the Spanish dubbing process for countless Hollywood films.

CineMovie spoke with Ricardo from Mexico by phone to discuss how he came to be Depp's Spanish counterpart and the behind the scenes of dubbing a film into another language.  He also touches upon the possibility of another Pirates movie.
How does the voice-over process begin?
Depends on the film. Sometimes I direct but in Rango I was only an actor. We have some meetings. We have a lot of time to prepare for the character. We watch certain videos. Before heading into the studio for the voiceover, we watch the completed film. We check for certain things on the script. We make changes as we go along. Then we go in for only four days just to do the character.

How did you come to be Johnny Depp's Spanish voice?

I started voice acting since I was a kid. My father was one of the first to start voicing in Spanish.  I liked it very much. Then I studied dramatic art. I ended up doing this and its what I like the most. I started voicing Depp's movie characters starting with Nightmare on Elm Street and have been doing all his films since.  

Do you imitate actor's voice?
No. In voice-over work, we try not to impersonate. Since its a character that's been developed, we give it an appropriate personality. However, we think in certain paramenters. For example, when he's Jack Sparrow he speaks with a very raspy voice, drunken stupor all the time. In Alice in Wonderland, he raised his voice very, very high. Every character we try to give it certain personalities. It's very different. As actors, we have the responsibility of giving it something different, so you don't hear Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt sounding alike in Spanish. We do a lot of metamorphisis, as we say.

Have you met Johnny Depp?
No. It would be great but I haven't had the pleasure. When I've been to the United States, I go to meetings and things like that, so it's rare for me to be at the studios. Generally I'm locked indoors going over scripts or watching movies.
When you direct a Spanish translation, what's involved?
It's a very long process. First, I do a casting. My responsibilities as a director is to find someone with the right voice or if they are already have a designated voice. From there, it's about watching the film various times to familiar yourself with it; reading the entire script in English; studying the direction on script; then you doing the translation. Then I do an adaptation of the translation, so that it syncs up with the movement of the lips. Perhaps there's a joke in English that doesn't translate in Spanish so you have to figure out how to make it work in Spanish. After that its the process of the recording the voices. Then you go into editing of the dialogue and adjusting it. Then the mix is done. And finally the print master. It's all a process that takes two to three months.

Which films have your directed?

Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Finding Nemo, Cars, Zookeeper, all of the Narnia movies, Megamind, Yogi Bear, etc. I just finished a secret project which I can't name, but soon you will find out.  I have various years directing. I've done a lot of film so I can't list them all, but I started very young. I'm 38. I've been directing for twenty years.  I do about 10 to 12 films as a director a year.  Approximately one a month.

Are there films you found difficult to translate especially if slang is part of the dialogue?
There is sometimes, but it depends on the market. I just did Hoodwinked, the Little Red Riding Hood animated film, and on that film, we managed to get El Loco Valdez and other famous Mexican actors. They brought a lot of Mexican humor, a lot of slang. And other films that are difficult are the street films or drug dealer movies --its all slang. So we have to find a way to adapt. Sometimes because of Mexican laws and other countries, we can't include foul language used in the American version. We have to soften the words.

Rango was a special film apart from being an animated film. It had certain things that were a bit harsh that in the end we had to soften.  In the English version, the characters dialogue includes a lot of profanity so if we had left that in, there would be some problems.

There are reports that Johnny Depp has signed on for a fifth installment of Pirate of the Caribbean. When are you notified of possible work coming your way?
They advise me ahead of time because generally we start voicing the trailers, and doing voice tests.  We have a lot of work before they finish production. Usually a year before the release.
Since Hollywood films dominate movie theaters in Mexico, what is the state of Mexican Cinema?
In Mexico, we're in need of government support and promotion. It's difficult to get a film made in Mexico. I'm actually producing an animated film with some friends in the business but it's too difficult. It takes a lot of effort to raise the money and find the support in Mexico, There is good cinema but there is far too little original production, so we can't hit up Hollywood or Bollywood.

CineMovie wishes Ricardo Tejedo best of luck with his passion project. You can catch Ricardo's voice-over work on the Rango DVD and Blu-ray on the Spanish dub of the movie under language selection.

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