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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Romantically Speaking - Kathleen O'Brien

The other day on Facebook I saw a link that intrigued me. Actor Greg Wise (think Willoughby from “Sense and Sensibility”) was reading aloud from Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.” I tried not to click. I’m seriously behind in my work, my house and desk are both a mess, and I need to get this next book going. But writers are supposed to immerse themselves in good literature, aren’t they? And romance writers live in a perpetual quest for inspiration for new heroes.


So I had to check it out. (Probably, you will, too! :) http://www.cartenoire.co.uk/cartenoire/page?locale=uken1&PagecRef=662 )

I think the site is officially selling coffee, but I can’t be sure because I was…distracted. Greg Wise’s voice hypnotized me from the first syllable—even before I saw his face.

Don’t get me wrong. I know Wise is gorgeous. He has one seriously hypnotic face, but that wasn’t what caught me. The first thing I notice about a man is his voice. If the voice is good enough, I probably will think the man is attractive, whether his features technically make the cut or not. For instance, I used to have a major crush on a certain late-night news anchor, which mystified my husband, who insisted the anchor looked like Howdy Doody. Maybe he did. I never noticed. A good voice, one that’s low, elegant and kind, laced with intelligence and laughter, blinds me to everything else.

Conversely, a disappointing voice can reduce even a handsome actor to mediocrity. For instance, Nicholas Cage is a bit nasal. Richard Gere is a touch flat. No matter how interesting or sexy, these two are forever relegated to my B List.

The examples could go on forever, but my absolute favorite celebrity voices belong to Jeremy Irons, Colin Firth, Ralph Fiennes, and Sean Connery. I don’t include Alan Rickman in this list, because he’s in a class by himself. Rickman could seduce a vestal virgin by reading her the phone book. Don’t believe me? Listen to this Harry Potter clip, in which his Severus Snape (not a pretty man) turns the number 394 into a sexual sonnet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlIKLLkvulY&feature=related

What about you? Are there any actors whose voices make you melt? Or is it something else that hypnotizes you? The eyes, maybe? The smile? I have a friend who has to be sitting down if she’s going to get a glimpse of Daniel Day Lewis’s long, graceful fingers. I can’t wait to hear what makes your knees weak. As I said, it’s a romance writer’s duty to research these weighty matters.

31 comments:

Virginia C said...

Hi, Kathleen! It's me again! I admit that I have a "thing" for voices : ) The love of my life, Sam Elliott, has it all, including a voice like no other! His voice alone makes all the seams come loose in your clothes : ) Sam has done some great voice-over work for commercials. I would know his voice any time, any place. I still haven't recovered from those ads he did for Union Pacific. I live in a small railroad town, and I had to keep suppressing the urge to go and wait by the train tracks...for Sam : )

Gary Cooper. Eyes so blue, you could see their color on black and white film. An easy-going, charmingly sly manner which was only the top layer of a complex, immensely intriguing man. Gregory Peck. Chocolate eyes and ebony hair, prominent cheekbones and full lips. A voice so rich and succulent, it melted like butter on perfectly cooked steak, mingling with the savory juice. Cultured and sexy as a man could be! John Wayne. Deservedly called “Duke”. A true man of the West, and the true dream of a western woman. “The Quiet Man” was quite a man! Errol Flynn, both bad and beautiful, was known as a notorious real-life rogue. However, he had one of the most refined and gentlemanly voices of all the great screen idols! An intriguing contrast : )Richard Egan was an extremely handsome and masculine star. He had a serious demeanor, beautiful blue eyes and a deep, sexy voice. I love the Scottish "burr", and Gerard Butler has my heart when he speaks in his natural Scottish accent. Aussies are also good blokes. Too right. Fellas like Bryan Brown and Rod Taylor, Sam Neill, and of course Hugh Jackman.

Kristin said...

Colin Firth, Sean Connery, and Alan Rickman....you stole my list!

Usually I notice the external things first, nothing like a man whose eyes flash with intelligence and sparkle with humor. The next thing I notice in real life is height, in the movies or on tv I notice the hair. Those are usually things I quickly pick up on but when someone speaks, it can either kill or kindle my initial attraction.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Virginia, I'm so glad you brought up some great American voices! I knew I must be overlooking someone!

Sam Elliott and Gary Cooper are both great suggestions! And of course you really thought of some awesome Aussies!

And Gerard Butler...when he's allowed to speak in his natural voice, it's heavenly, isn't it?

Thanks so much for sharing! You've brought a lot of swoony voices to mind!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Kristin, I suspect this list is the same for a lot of us! :) And I love the way you put that..."when someone speaks, it can either kill or kindle my initial attraction." Perfectly put!

Mary Anne Landers said...

"It's a romance writer's duty to research these weighty matters." You said it, Kathleen! Thanks for the fun post.

Say, that late-night TV news anchor you mentioned---that wouldn't be Ted Koppell, by any chance? Just asking . . . .

I've been trying to answer your question, to come up names of guys who are prominent actors (and, I assume, singers) with seductive voices. But I keep running into the same problem I did when, elsewhere, I got into a website discussion about which female entertainer has or had the best of a certain atribute (never mind which one).

The problem is, I can't compartmentalize people that way. This is true for persons of either sex, both celebs and regular folks. It applies to the characters I read about (including yours) and create.

If there's a man I wish I had (or vice-versa), or a woman I wish I were more like, it's not just one attribute that attracts me more than the rest. It's the total package. It's his or her whole being---physical, mental, spiritual. It's someone's life story, someone's accomplishments, what someone stands for, who someone is. And of course, someone's interactions with others, which makes an already complicated issue even more so.

Wish I could help you! No doubt others can. But "He's such a sexy package" just doesn't have the same ring to it as "He's got such a sexy voice."

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Mary Anne, you're absolutely right, of course. In terms of real life, when I might actually have to deal on a daily basis with a person, I'd need more than a good voice, or good hair, or good any single thing. But when it comes to celebrities, I am definitely a sucker for a lovely voice!

And yes, you guessed it! I have always thought Ted Koppel had one of the most wonderful voices in the world. I read so much kindness in it, as well as a generous-spirited wisdom.

I thought of you last night, btw. We were watching an old comedy, "What's Up, Doc," which stars Ryan O'Neal. I'll always think of you whenever I think of either O'Neal or Farrah.

Thanks for coming by and at least *trying* to be superficial and silly! :)

Nancy Robards Thompson said...

You snagged me with Alan Rickman…and Colin Firth and Ralph Fiennes…oh, okay and Jeremy, too. Yes, I think we have the same taste in men, Kathleen. I’ll take Alan and you can have Ralph, if we must to divvy up. ;) A great voice (a la Alan Rickman) is definitely hypnotizing, but I must own up to a shallow attraction: I’m a sucker for a tall guy with a broad set of shoulders. With those attributes, he needn’t be classically good looking to turn my head. Toss in an Allan Rickman voice and I’m a gonner.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Nancy, broad shoulders sound like a delicious addition to a great voice! :) I have to warn you, though, my friend Kristin is going to guard Alan with her life. She's already put me on notice, and I think she means business!

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thanks for your response, Kathleen.

What a coincidence you should mention Farrah Fawcett. She's very much a case in point of someone who was celebrated for one attribute above and beyond the rest---her famous hair. But there was so much more to her than that. And she was fascinating and attracted plenty of attention even when, late in life, she lost that beautiful hair.

You and Virginia C. brought up the subject of guys with Australian accents. Y'know, come to think of it, there was a time when I thought Mel Gibson's voice was sexy. Not anymore!

Keep up the good work.

Maire Aine said...

Sometimes it's amazing how you imagine what someone looks like just by listening to their voice. One voice that comes to mind and I'm surprised and disappointed he hasn't been mentioned,Liam Neeson. I remember the first time I heard his voice I was mesmerized. I thought wow what a voice. When I saw a picture of him wow in person he transended the voice triple fold. The eyes, those gorgeous blue eyes. The whole persona well what can I say?

Mary said...

I love listening to Sean Connery talk, his voice is so sexy.

Meg M said...

TOTALLY agree with you about Alan Rickman being in a class by himself. He's so awesome, young, old, in character/costume or just in a commercial as himself. Seriously smitten here. LOL!

Christina Hollis said...

Years ago, there was a radio dramatisation of Frenchman's Creek whose pirate had the sexiest, most irresistible voice you've ever heard.
I made the mistake of looking up his photograph in the Radio Times.
Let's just say he was a brilliant actor...

Merry said...

Leave it to you, Kathleen, to come up with a fun new topic.

Completely agree with you. Although I still can't watch Rickman as Snape.

Pam S said...

I completely agree with your list Kathleen, there are many that come to mind but the one that sticks out is Gary Sinise he has such a distinct voice.

I would say it comes down to the voice and eyes, the eyes tell you so much about a person.

practimom said...

Okay, I'm sorry but Vin Diesel's voice is so sexy, and so is he. I agree with Sean Connery, and Jeremy Irons and Gerard Butler, and add Colin Farrell and Michael Duncan Clarke and you have me in a puddle on the floor!

Pat Cochran said...

Babies and little children! Oh,
especially baby fingers, hands
and arms! Specifically, when they
wind those digits and appendages
about this grandmother. Then I'm
in heaven! As for voices, there
was once a boyfriend who sang a
song called Earth Angel to me,
a former football-playing friend
who only had to speak to get my
attention, and then there is my
Honey. 'Nuff said!!

Pat Cochran

Venetta said...

Sorry, Kathleen, I disagree. The British men always sound so snotty and condescending. Give me a sexy Texas drawl any day. Don't you like any American voice?

Dina said...

yep, Gerard Butler is my tops and James McAvoy, some american actors as well, just how they talk.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Mary, isn't Sean Connery just wonderful? He can say "Bond. James Bond" like no other Bond on earth, although I do kind of like the new guy! :) Do you?

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Meg, what fun to learn you're a Rickman fan, too. He transcends whatever role he plays. Have you ever seen "Truly, Madly, Deeply"? You'll cry your eyes out, but it's worth it! :)

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Christina, now you've got me so excited I can't wait until you write back! Who was it??? "Frenchman's Creek" is one of my favorite books ever. I love duMaurier, and I love Cornwall, so I was pretty much hooked before word one! The idea of hearing it from someone with a fabulous voice is so thrilling! Please, please, tell! Who?

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Merry, I'll win you over yet. ;-) Or rather Rickman's voice will! Just shut your eyes and listen to him...three hundred and ninety four!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Pam, Gary Sinise's voice is something special. One of my best writing buddies, Ann Evans of Superromance, is a particular fan of his, and she opened my ears to it!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Practimom, I have to admit I don't know much about Vin Diesel, but I can tell now that I'm going to have to find out! :) Oh, dear! As if I needed another obsession! But thanks for your list, which was lovely! See that puddle next to you? That's me!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Maire Aine, you're so right about Liam Neeson. I sometimes forget what a lovely voice he has, because I'm so transported by those eyes you mentioned. But yes, yes. He's fantastic!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Pat, that's such a beautiful story! I can so easily imagine falling for a guy who had the sensitivity to sing "Earth Angel" to you! There's something about a serenade...and I love, love, love that song!

I also loved that you mentioned babies! There's nothing on this earth to weaken your knees like that blissful innocence. Thanks for broadening the conversation, and making me smile!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Oh, Venetta, yes, I definitely do love some American voices, too! In fact, my list is so long I think I was a little afraid of looking like some kind of headcase! ;-)

Gregory Peck's voice is definitely one I should have put right at the top! To me, he sounds like wisdom, comfort, love and home all mixed together. For pure sex appeal, there's Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Hamm from Mad Men. And, from way back in my life, I definitely always have had a soft spot for a Texas drawl. Gene Autry, Dan Blocker, and I think Virginia already mentioned the great John Wayne. Yum!

I had to smile when you mentioned how snooty the Brits can sound. I know exactly what you mean, though for some reason it doesn't irritate me. My husband finds it maddening, however. His favorite phrase for them is "foppish dweebs." LOL!

Thanks for giving me permission to make my "love" list even longer!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Dina, a big thumbs up for James McAvoy! Oh, the list is endless, isn't it? All the more reason to smile all day long! :) Thanks!

Maire Aine said...

American actors through the years have always made women swoon. When you think of American voices many come to mind. Clark Gable & Tyrone Power in their day commanded women to attention. Many a woman dreamt of them, I'm sure. Let's not forget Bogart. I think the reason for the popularity of the British voice is because of their perfect diction.The American voice reminds you of a day soaking in the sun and a slow night of passion.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Maire Aine--Gable! :) And what a fantastic way to put it..."a day soaking in the sun and a slow night of passion." Wow.