Tony Jay: Playlist for the Ultimate Voice-Over Villain
I tend to talk up voice actors here in the Houston Press blogs. Part of it is because I'm trying to justify entering my fourth decade on Earth and still being mesmerized by cartoons, but a lot of it is because I think that the discipline represents one of the most underrated acting skills of all time. Just because he was in a feature film, people still consider George Clooney a better Batman than Kevin Conroy, even though I can produce a chart proving that is not possible.
Of all the behind-the-mike talent that I write fan letters to, none is bigger or better in my opinion than the sorely missed Tony Jay, who passed away on this day in 2006 from complications related to lung surgery. He was 73, but still incredibly active and much sought after for his deep, menacing voice. I still tear up a little when I happen to be home with the Kid With One F and we're watching Jay's Spiderus use his sinister timbre to try and deal with fatherhood in Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends.
So here's to you, Tony. This week's playlist is dedicated to your work and the impact you had on the art of voice acting. It's a sadder world without you.
Tony Jay, "Dancing in the Dark": Tony was a talker, not a singer, and as far as I can tell he recorded only one real song in his life. However, he was a passionate Broadway fan, and liked to make spoken-word versions of standards. He released an album of these in 2005 called Speaking of Broadway. My favorite is this rendition of "Dancing In the Dark" from Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz's The Band Wagon.
Mortiis, "Parasite God": I first heard Jay's work in the epically Shakespearean vampire video-game series Legacy of Kain. Jay played many characters over the course of the series, including the necromancer Mortanius and the spider-like boss Zephon, but his best work happened as the parasitic Elder God.
The soul-consuming, Lovecraftian deity turned his back on the vampire race after they were cursed with immortality, sterility, and bloodthirst by a vanquished race of demons. From then on, he waged a war of deceit in order to extinguish the vampires, leading to crusades, genocides, and the decay of the world itself. YouTube user Leapetra put together this tribute to the fight against the Elder God set to Mortiis's best tune.