Leonardo DiCaprio could have been the voice behind the protagonist in the first English-dubbed Pokemon animation movie, but it didn’t happen.
The film Pokemon: The First Movie, which was released in Japan first, in 1998, has become the first ever theatrical production for the franchise.
Pokemon animation series was a huge craze worldwide with their English-dubbed version, and it became a sensation.
There was a different English-language version that hit theatres in the United states where Norman Grossfeld produced it.
The English version of the Pokemon movie has a different voice cast with slight changes in the script from its native Japanese version.
Apparently, not Leonardo DiCaprio but Veronica Taylor was voice-casted for the role of Ash Ketchum in this English-dubbed version.
When Pokemon: The First Movie was in production, Leonardo DiCaprio became a worldwide sensation as he played the protagonist in the iconic film Titanic in 1997.
So no wonder, why makers for this English-dubbed version of the Pokemon movie thought of DiCaprio for Ash’s voice character.
It’s not that Dicaprio wasn’t well-recognized as an actor in the industry. He got an early breakthrough in his career in What’s Eating Gibert Grape.
But the Titanic (1997) established him as a true Hollywood star and worldwide recognized personality. Even today, he is one of the most popular and highest-paid actors in Hollywood and worldwide.
Also, interestingly, he never really did a voice character as his works are mostly in live-action films.
Recently reported by CBR, in their episode of The Big Hit Show podcast, it was revealed that Leonardo DiCaprio was initially going to lend his voice to Ash in Pokemon: The First Movie.
When they were searching for a studio for the film distribution, one of the studios pitched them the idea of casting Dicaprio for Ash’s voice in the film. And they were even quite confident in their idea and were adamant about it.
But the producer of the film Grossfeld refused; here’s the podcast host Alex Pappademas explained on what happened :
“Whether he [DiCaprio] could have been enticed to play Ash in this movie is unclear, but either way it wouldn’t have mattered because Norman says he said no to DiCaprio in that meeting. Because, as Norman saw it, having somebody else do the voice would have been weird for the kids who’d grown accustomed to Ash sounding the way he did in the show. Pokémon had become so big so quickly that the addition of Leonardo DiCaprio–a person you generally want involved in a movie if you’re making one, and he’s available– would have taken away from it. Norman ended up making a distribution deal with Warner Bros.”Alex Pappademas, The Big Hit Show Podcast
Well, if you understand the arguments given by the producer, it is quite convincing and true.
He was right about the fact that Pokemon being a highly popular franchise by itself didn’t rely on casting big-time actors like Leonardo Dicaprio to bring more audience in.
Also, Dicaprio’s voice is far different from what Ash sounded so far in the series and what people are used to.
And since, the English-version Ash’s voice was done by women in a typical high, feminine voice for decades, Dicaprio’s voice will throw kids and teens off dramatically.
It is safe to say that voice casting for the movie Pokemon: The First movie which they picked worked for them best.
Feature Image Source: GoodFon