Monday, January 23, 2012

The Voice of Sean Astin

Sean is a well-known figure on both the big and little screens, with several score roles to his credit besides his iconic Samwise, Rudy and Mikey. His voice is also well-known: among other projects, he was the beloved narrator of the first three seasons of Animal Planet’s “Meerkat Manor.” Parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers may recognize his voice (in a slightly higher register!) as the stuffed secret agent panda bear in Disney’s “Special Agent Oso.” He’ll also be heard later this year in the animated feature film “Ribbit” and a new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” series on Nickelodeon.

Lesser known is that Sean has also done old-fashioned radio dramas—yes the kind you listen to on your radio! He has now done four episodes of the Twilight Zone™ Radio Dramas, based on the famous Rod Serling TV series from the 1960s. TZRD, begun in 2002, currently airs on almost 200 radio stations around the country as well as the XM and Sirius satellite networks. It's hosted by the solemn voice of actor Stacy Keach and features the voice talents of Jason Alexander, John Ratzenberger, Jane Seymour, Ed Begley, Jr., and many more.

Series producer and CEO of Falcon Picture Group, Carl Amari talked with us via telephone about Sean’s involvement with TZRD. According to Carl, Sean's first project with him was as narrator for “The Word of Promise: The Next Generation,” an audio dramatization of the New Testament aimed at young people.

Photo courtesy Carl Amari

“I’ve been a fan of his since The Goonies,” said Carl. “And then Rudy, of course, one of the best movies of all time in my opinion. He’d be great [for Word of Promise] I thought. I’d read that he was vocal about his faith, too, not hiding it like some Hollywood stars, so I reached out to him.” [Sean narrates, with young actors and actresses in most of the roles.]

“It’s pretty hard to find anyone more accommodating or nicer than Sean. When I asked him about doing some Twilight Zone, he said ‘Cool!’ Sean’s father John Astin has done radio drama, so he was familiar with the format.”

Sean ended up doing four episodes over the last few years:

  • Who Am I? A young business man wakes up one morning and has a completely different face—but only he thinks it's different from before.
  • The Amazing Dr. Kyle Powers. A cold, unsympathetic physician is given an opportunity to change his ways when an extraordinary visitor gives him the ability to experience his patients' symptoms. But will the good doctor change for the better?
  • Beewinjapeedee. A documentary filmmaker travels to the Everglades in search of his brother's killer and encounters a legendary Indian Princess and shape-shifter with a ravenous appetite.
  • Snow Angel. At Christmas time, a pregnant teenage runaway finds herself in the care of an elderly Grandma-type who is an independent, practical, tough-minded recluse living in a remote part of South Dakota.

Each of these approximately 40-minute long episodes can be downloaded from the TZRD site for only $1.95. He’s also worked on two other audio Bible projects with Carl: “The Word of Promise: Old Testament” voicing Elihu, and the “Truth & Life” audio Bible as Matthew.

Do you foresee any future TZRD with Sean? 

“Oh yes! I’m going to definitely reach out to him to do some more. And I’m also doing another series. It’s more of a horror series called “Fangoria Dreadtime Stories, in association with Malcolm McDowell is the host of that. I’d like Sean to do some of those, so I’ll be knocking on his door!”

What’s Sean like to work with?

“He’s one of those guys that no matter what you give him, he can do it. He’s just a great actor. He’s wonderful to work with. Super easy, very fun, he enjoys what he does, super prepared when he comes. He’s got it down which saves a lot of time when we’re in the studio.

“I just love the guy,” Carl concludes. “He’s one of the good guys!”


  1. Awww, I love to read the positive comments from Carl about Sean. I still haven't had time to listen to Snow Angel, but hopefully will soon. Thanks for another wonderful article!

  2. Ellen, everyone I've had the opportunity to talk to about Sean is just completely smitten with him! ;-)

    Thank you!