There's a moment in 2004's Halo 2 when you come upon an embattled UNSC Marine fighting off an Elite alien soldier. If you didn't have his back, he died, but if you stepped up to the challenge, he simply said, "Thanks." Amid an intergalactic war it's unlikely you recognized the voice of that grateful Spartan as Nathan Fillion, a die-hard fan of the Halo series and star of the cult-hit Firefly. But a decade later it would be difficult to miss. After lending his pipes (and occasionally his face) to video games, films, sing-a-long blogs, and TV shows, including more than 150 episodes of ABC's Castle, the depth, tone, and charm in undeniable. So who better to ask for a few tips on how to use your voice then a man who said one word and and got everything he never knew he always wanted.
Be Better On The Phone
"I think the voice comes most into play when you're having conversations over the phone," says Fillion. "Especially if you're talking to a stranger. This person is not going to automatically be invested in you. When someone calls me and they're speaking a dull or monotone voice, I'm going to make certain judgments about them. First, I'm going to think they're boring. Second, I'm going to assume your unintelligent, because if you're talking to me on the phone and not trying to engage with me through your voice, how smart can you really be?" When dealing with customer service personal, Fillion recommends throwing on a little charm right off the bat. "You need to let them know that you're friendly, but at the same time, firm. Start off with a compliment before you get into your complaint."
Take Care Of The Pipes
"Water is always number one," he says adamantly. "When I start to feel a little hoarse I'll go with some hot water, lemon, and a little honey. Throat Coat is also really great when you're starting to feel really sick." Fillion then goes on to reveal that his voice has recent suffered from trying to sing along with old Peter Gabriel tunes. "I don't recommend that. Trying to do that scratchy Gabriel singing will ruin you."
"The secret about projecting correctly is always having enough air in the diaphragm. Fill up your lungs." Fillion learned the art behind getting enough breathe from his theater teachers in high school and college. "They were always telling us to play to the back room." And try to take a clever pause here and there. He also believes in a good warm-up playlist to keep everything conditioned. "Right now I've got a new one, 'Billionaire' by Travie McCoy, and the classic is 'Road To Nowhere' by the Talking Heads, because it goes from real low to real high."
Know When To Bring It Down
Sometimes it pays to take it down a notch says Fillion, who uses a little psychology insight to inform his opinion about how people act during the typical customer service blow up. "When they're upset most people lose their top and just start screaming. But I remember when I was growing up our dad would get loud with us, but we didn't care. We got used to that reaction, so we got used to ignoring it. But when he brought it down and had us go to our rooms, in a quiet stern voice, I was terrified. There's a way a person reacts to you when you're speaking slow and deliberate." Thanks for that one father Fillion.
Cut The Babytalk
"It needs to stop," he says very seriously. "Whether your talking to your baby or your dog, you both are going to lose your dignity in that situation. If you talk normally with a child they are going to pay better attention to you, and it's going to be better for them down the road." Though the actor doesn't have kids yet himself, he converses regularly with the children of his friends, and gives them the respect that they deserve.
Know When Be Yourself
Unfortunately Fillion doesn't have any magic lines or tricks to use with the ladies, and says that he doesn't put any on any airs. "Maybe a younger, more diabolical version of me, would have tried a lower voice, 'This is what sexy sounds like'. But I think it's just about being yourself."
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