Photography: Jason Odell
Words: Josh Woodfin
Styling: Arabella Boyce
Some celebrities will only ever be famous for their voice. Destined to only ever be famous in an audio capacity. Fated, if you will, to be feted non-facially. For instance: despite his huge popularity, Chris Moyles would be first to admit he has the archetypal “face for radio”. Or, in layman’s terms: like a neck-mounted, recently bereaved testicle. Similarly, TV careers for his colleagues Edith Bowman and Annie Nightingale have remained tantalisingly out o f reach. Elsewhere, John Motson never made the leap into Lineker’s seat. Alan Dedicoat, the Lottery’s “voice of the balls”, is never seen anywhere near the damn balls.
And we’ve heard a rumour that the woman who voices the M&S adverts has grotesque elephantiasis. But try listening again: it’s just too hard to tell. Alex Breckenridge is not one of these people. Making much of the preceding paragraph irrelevant and pointlessly bitchy. But it’s true. Since getting into theatre in her small but affluent birthplace of Darien, Connecticut, she’s appeared in the likes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, CSI and Dawson’s Creek. But despite her “range”, you’ll almost certainly know her voice best – from her numerous roles in world-dominating “smartoon” Family Guy.
But bear with us. Yes, vocal actors aren’t known for their dazzling looks. Just Google the cast behind The Simpsons: while hugely talented, Dan Castellaneta would be first to be wrongly lynched in any neighbourhood paedophile hunt, and Nancy Cartwright has more than a little of the “shaved Ewok” about her. But there’s a reason FHM flew out to LA to shoot this 26-year-old. And you hold the proof of her sun-kissed visual qualities in your hands right now. And yes, she’s got a fair bit to say too…
You’ve played everyone on Family Guy from Sarah Jessica Parker to a, er, rape victim. What’s so funny about your voice?
When I first went for Family Guy I auditioned for a guest voice. I don’t know why but [creator] Seth MacFarlane really likes the sound of my voice. I’ll never understand that. He just liked me and they call me back all the time to do different things.
How do you get into character?
Honestly, they’ll just call me and give me three different shows to do. I just go in and read it how I would read it – it takes about five minutes. Then they animate to your voice. So you say it with whatever timing you want, which is a lot easier than matching your voice to the screen.
What’s Seth MacFarlane like? Is he protective of his baby?
What, Stewie? No, he’s really funny and intelligent, he’s so smart that I can barely talk to him sometimes, the words, the vocabulary he uses, the references he makes, I have no idea what he’s talking about. He’s really a workaholic. I mean, he never takes vacations, he works every day, all the time. I think that’s what makes people really successful – they’re really driven like that.
You’ve appeared in a lot of shows, a couple of which have been cancelled. Do you find it hard not to take that personally?
It can be a bummer. I suppose if you’re the lead of a show you might feel a little more personally sacked, but I was always a supporting character on the shows so I was like, “Oh well – something else will come up…”
Is it auditions all day if you haven’t got a job on?
Pilot season is right now, so I’ve been getting a lot of scripts and auditions, I’m trying not to go on everything, because I feel like I’ve done that a lot. I don’t want to get stuck on a medical show for seven years. Some people would give their left pinkie toe for that, but I just want to enjoy my work. I don’t want to get stuck in something.
Have you ever had a bollocking on set for messing up?
I got yelled at by a script supervisor once. I was trying to fix this guy’s hat, and it moved. I noticed it had moved and tried to tell her it wouldn’t match the other take – and she said, nastily, “You don’t ever do that.” She went on about it, and I ran away crying hysterically.
So what’s the hierarchy there? Who’s allowed to shout at who?
Well she really shouldn’t have spoken to me like that, and I should have stood up for myself, but it came so out of left field. Really it’s only the directors and producers who can throw a hissy fit.
So in the future when you’re earning $20 million a movie, where will you live and what will be your luxury?
It’ll be a house in the south of France, and actually I was just in London. I was only there for a week but it was cool. It was freezing. And a little house in the hills, that’d be nice. And I mean $20 million for a movie, I’d have to give a lot to charity because what could I do with all that money?
Get a pool shaped like your name?
There is one thing if I had that money, I’d like a garage. I drive all over the friggin place in LA in a BMW 3 series coupé, a two-door. I love old cars. So what do you do with your friends? Or as a small town Connecticut girl, is it hard to find them in LA? There’s a lot of fakeness in Hollywood, and a lot of girls are out to get something. But I’ve never been like that. I began to hang out with these girls that were like that, and it was beyond me. I had to stop talking to them. Luckily, I found a great group of friends who have… integrity. I got really lucky.
So what’s a perfect night out in LA?
I like going out for a nice dinner then back to somebody’s house for wine. And maybe charades, or Trivial Pursuit. God, I sound like an old granny.
Albeit a strangely hot one. Ever bumped into any A-listers by accident?
Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman are two of my heroes, and I don’t go to those parties that they go to. But some day I will. Although I ran in to Ryan Gosling at the video store. Which was bad, as I think he’s incredibly cute. And I was in my sweatpants with grungy hair. I ran away.
You were in Freaks And Geeks – what was it like working with Seth Rogen and James Franco?
I’d never met Seth Rogen, but James I’d actually met the year before at some audition. I was about 15 or 16, and I just thought he was some over-confident Hollywood actor. Then I went to Freaks And Geeks and he was like, “Hey Alex!”. And I was like, “Er… hey, famous Hollywood actor guy!” Now I’m just hitting myself over the head because I didn’t really know any better.
In our photoshoot, you have tattoos. But not in your TV roles, mysteriously…
Yeah – we cover them up. Some make-up artists are better than others, but there’s airbrushing, and there’s a sort of latex waterproof paint, body paint obviously. I’ve had to get it covered for almost all of the projects I’ve done.
So – no plans for more then?
Not really. I have a huge fairy on my leg that I don’t really like. I got it when I was 18 and now… I’ve just got this huge fairy on my leg. At the time I had a thing for fairies; I’ve got another one on my back. There’s so many other more elegant things that I could have got. Oh well.
See next month’s FHM for our exclusive interview with the creator of Family Guy and American Dad, Seth MacFarlane
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