Joel Dawson can be heard voicing all characters on Thomas & Friends Stories and Stunts, along with voicing Buster in Go Buster!, both with Moonbug Productions. As a screen actor, Joel is best-known for playing Georgie Banks in Mary Poppins Returns alongside Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, with whom he attended the world premiere in Los Angeles and the European premiere at London’s Royal Albert Hall. In 2019, Joel co-presented the Best Young Actor Award at The British Soap Awards, and he has also worked on MAMMA MIA 2 – Here We Go Again and a number of commercials. Answering our questions, Joel talks about his voiceover work with Moonbug Productions, playing Georgie Banks in Mary Poppins Returns and co-presenting at The British Soap Awards.
We understand you narrate and voice characters on Thomas & Friends Stories and Stunts, can you tell us about this?
Yes, this was a very fun project to work on. I had the honour of voicing all the characters in the series. I enjoyed crafting a different voice for each character it was challenging at times but I received great coaching and help from the director. Each episode had a narrated story version and a song version so I sang the related songs too.
What is Go Buster! like to be part of and what is it like voicing Buster?
Go Buster! was actually my first voiceover role. For the audition, I had to learn and record a Buster rap song. I was really pleased to be cast as Buster (the title character!). An adventurous young yellow bus, Buster goes on many adventures and so the material was varied – from paint colours, to farm animals, to road safety. The series is geared toward a young audience so the songs and stories are full of educational content.
Is there anything you enjoy most about voiceover work and working with Moonbug Productions?
When performing as a voice actor, you will do the same line over and over again multiple times with different intonations/speeds so that the creative team have choice on what suits the visuals best when they edit it together. It was a great experience because you have to convey all emotion and action only through your voice. The team at Moonbug are really great to work with. I loved going to the studio and working with them.
What are some of your favourite memories from playing Georgie Banks in Mary Poppins Returns?
I have many great memories from working on Mary Poppins Returns. Meeting everyone for the first time on the first day. Having my first costume fittings. My favourite days were always stunt days, where we worked with the stunt teams for the kite scene, underwater scene, the balloon scene, the bowl scene – there were many stunts! Filming the musical numbers with all the dancers and other actors was really fun too!
Can you tell us about playing the character and working with the rest of the cast?
Playing the character of Georgie Banks was my very first acting role. I loved it so much and it was a fantastic experience. I learned a lot about filmmaking and worked with an incredible cast and crew. The best part about playing Georgie was that he truly believed in Mary Poppins’ magic and was enthusiastic about everything, which is basically how I felt each day, so it was great to be able to play that.
There were many people in the cast. Most of my scenes were with Pixie (Davies), Nathanael (Saleh), Emily (Blunt) and Lin (Manuel Miranda), who are all fantastic actors and were great fun to be around. I learned a lot from observing them working.
How was it attending the film premieres and seeing the film for the first time?
I first saw the completed film at a special cast screening almost 18 months after we finished filming. It was so exciting to see everyone again and, of course, to watch the film. Seeing the animations for the first time was incredible, as most of those scenes were filmed on green screen. You really get to appreciate the magic of the movies and the exceptional talent of the filmmakers.
There were two premieres for the movie. One was the world premiere (in LA), and the other was the European Premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Both were amazing to be a part of. It was so exciting to have so many Mary Poppins fans at those events and to finally share the film with them.
How was the experience performing on the Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack?
The songs in this movie are incredible! The music accurately describes the emotions being portrayed in the lyrics, which made it much easier to portray the character’s feelings when singing. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are incredibly talented. We recorded the soundtrack in a studio, some of it with a live orchestra, which was an awesome experience and an honour to be a small part of that.
What was it like co-presenting the Best Young Actor Award for The British Soap Awards in 2019?
I was invited with Pixie and Nathanael to present at The British Soap Awards in 2019. We travelled up to Manchester for the evening. We had a quick run through of our lines with the production team and then got ready. It was a wonderful evening to attend and recognise the achievements of some great actors, and of course I love any opportunity to catch up with Pixie and Nathanael. The ITV team were kind enough to allow us to attend the after party with our parents, so we danced the night away!
You were in the cast of MAMMA MIA 2 – Here We Go Again, how was this?
I had a small background role in the movie during the award ceremony scene. I was only on set for one day, but I enjoyed every second of it.
What is your favourite aspect of working on commercials and can you say about the ones you’ve filmed?
I have done a couple of commercial shoots. They are fast-paced and usually the team is much smaller than on a film set. My role as an actor is the same in both settings, to bring the character to life and to follow the guidance of the director. My favourite aspect of working on commercials is that I get to act, which is what I love to do.
How did you get into acting and voiceover and is it something you always wanted to do?
A family friend was setting up an acting agency when I was about five or six and my sister and I were invited to audition. I have always loved performing and was very excited to try it out.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I play some sport socially (namely football and netball). However, most of the time I’m just playing video games, but I have recently started a new hobby called Warhammer. It is a tabletop battle scenario game with rivalling armies all fighting for a different objective. It’s probably the nerdiest thing I have ever shown an interest in, but I still find it cool. I also love to read and listen to podcasts.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch?
I am quite interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney+. And also Star Wars. Now that I think about it, I am becoming a bit of a nerd.
What are you hoping the upcoming year brings for your career?
I don’t really mind. I would love to be in another movie. Every audition is an opportunity to develop my skills and explore a new character, so I will keep going until the next right project.
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