When posing as a bounty hunter at the start of Return of the Jedi, Princess Leia wears a mask that significantly alters her voice, and gives her a timbre similar to that of a little alien we know well.
“Relax for a moment. You are freed from the carbonite. You have the sickness of hibernation.”
Hard to recognize Princess Leia’s voice at the very beginning of Return of the Jedi, when she addresses Han Solo after breaking into Jabba’s Palace, disguised as a bounty hunter. Indeed, as we learn in the audio commentary of the film, it is obviously not Carrie Fisher who vocally interpreted the character in this sequence, but a very different actress, famous for having lent her voice to another. very famous pop culture character:
“Pat Welsh gave the character his voice. She was the woman who was the main voice of ET the alien.”, explains sound engineer Ben Burtt. “I had worked on ET and we had recorded her voice. She was an elderly, retired woman who had never acted in a movie. I had met her at a photo store in San Anselmo, in California, while she was buying film. I heard her voice, and I found it very interesting and unusual, in the sense that you didn’t know if it was male or female. “
Under the helmet of Boushh (the bounty hunter that Leia pretends to be), it is therefore the voice of Pat Welsh, alias ET, that we can hear in the film.
Ben burtt, a true cinema legend who created from scratch the sound universe of the Star Wars saga, is what one might call a sound alchemist, capable of transforming everyday noises – seemingly harmless to an ordinary ear – into new sounds, straight out of space.
To concoct the voice of an alien such as ET or Boushh, he therefore has his own recipe, the main ingredient of course being the atypical tone of a person like Pat Welsh:
“One of the rules for making alien voices is to always find voices that the audience doesn’t immediately identify as male or female, or old or young, so that they don’t connect them to a familiar human being. (…) Pat had a voice like that, and I just asked him, “Do you want to be the voice of an alien?” She looked at me – she didn’t flinch, called the police or whatever. She said, “Okay. I’ll try.” So we recorded it and worked with it for years. We became friends and used it occasionally for special voices. “
Disappeared in 1995 at the age of 79, Pat Welsh is only known to have vocally traveled in the universes of Spielberg or Lucas. On Youtube, however, we can hear him “in real life”, tell us about his main passion: gardening …