ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Whisper Talkers on TV - Actors That Do It Well, and Those Who Need to Speak Up!

Updated on October 11, 2011

The New Tough Guy Persona

Over the past decade or so, a new acting style has become more and more popular for the TV actor. The role of the “Whisper Talker.”

Actors today tend to find that speaking in low, fast tones (much like that of a whisper) will provide a stigma around the character they are portraying. A tough exterior, yet broken soul, tormented by a shattered past and irrevocable loss. Often times these characters have something to prove and although they have the muscle to see their role through, deep beneath the surface is a softer persona looking for acceptance.

This I get.

What I don’t always get are the words coming out of the actors mouth. Nothing ruins the flow of a story, or interrupts one’s viewing pleasure than having to rewind, up the volume and rewind again in order to figure out what was said. And too bad for you poor souls that don’t have the convenience of a DVR.

So this began me thinking about who the best and worst whisper to ever grace our television sets. Here is my list and my ratings:

Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) - 24

First of all, in my opinion one of the greatest and innovative TV experiences ever aired. The first three seasons really was a combined effort to make what I think was the greatest TV show on at that time. It wasn’t until the mini-movie 24: Redemption which aired before season 7 that I really noticed Kiefer Sutherlands whisper talking. It’s really noticeable in the opening scene of the movie and continues to the end. Of course he’s not all whisper talker and changes his tone whenever the situation arises.
Whisper Talker Rating: Audible


Jim Caviezel (John Reese) - Person of Interest

Quickly becoming one of my favorite shows, Person of Interest is exciting to watch and has a leading actor with viewer appeal. Jim Caviezel whisper talks through most of his lines but he acts his tough guy part in convincing fashion. It’s too early to tell whether I’m going to put down the remote or not. I figured he played Jesus, therefore I should be tolerant to some point.
Whisper Talker Rating: Audible


Jeremy Davies (Daniel Faraday) - Lost

A great show that sucked you in every week. Intriguing, and the show style was very original. I just couldn’t get around a whisper talker that didn’t have the muscle to back it up. Jeremy Davies played Daniel Faraday in the show and was more of a boy genius than a tough guy. Although he had torment in his life, the whisper talking role should only apply for those with a rough exterior in order to portray their softer side. On TV nobody cares about the soft spoken nerd. By the way, if you want to see excellent tough guy acting by Jeremy Davies, look no further than Justified, season 2.
Whisper Talker Rating: “Can you please repeat that?”


Joseph Fiennes (FBI Special Agent Mark Benford) - Flash Forward

Academy Award nominee, Joseph Fiennes is known for his stage and film acting and has no problem with stepping outside of the mainstream to act in the independent films as well. But combine a poorly written script and whisper talking and you have “Flash Forward.” It’s hard for me to blame him for his approach to his character. There obviously is a reason for his character to be brooding and conflicted. Anyone would if they knew their fate and couldn’t stop it. Too bad he didn’t flash forward to see how the show would have turned out.
Whisper Talker Rating: I’m going to bed.

The role of the whisper talker is alive and well in TV and often times mocked on variety shows. But one thing is for sure: with TV encroaching the limits of what they can do on TV as well as cable shows being more accessible, the role of the tough guy whisper talker is not going away anytime soon. Please, just whisper talk sparingly.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Bjc 

      10 months ago

      I’m glad i’m not the only one out there that finds “whisper talking “ in the majority of today’s movies very annoying. The film industry needs to realize this may have been popular once, but now it’s just mice following each other. It is VERY distasteful!!!

    • profile image

      Jo-An 

      2 years ago

      Yes, and now he's doing it on Designated Survivor, quite a good show if it wasn't for the darn whispering. Even Michael Weatherly is doing it on his new show, Bull. The worst is Eamonn Walker on Chicago Fire. When he comes on I mute the tv. I can't do that with the two new shows I mentioned because they are the main characters, so after awhile I imagine I'll stop watching. I find it that annoying.

    • profile image

      Joeyr 

      2 years ago

      I hate Kiefer Sutherland's voice on any show. I can't watch him on anything. Touch, 24 drove me so crazy that I only watched a few episodes of each. Does he think it's sexy? It is not, it's just plain stupid and annoying. If he doesn't have a medical condition, then speak up.

    • profile image

      11q2w3e 

      2 years ago

      wentworth miller in prison break whispers all his lines!!!! incredible annoying!

    • profile image

      TalkSoup 

      2 years ago

      The whisper talk annoys the hell out of me especially when 2 actors are doing it together i.e. jack bauer and tony almeda in season 7 of 24.

      But this article left out the most annoying whisper talker of all. Nicole Kidman. I know she usually only does it to hide her accent but i have yet to watch a movie with her without having closed captions

    • profile image

      george liddell 

      3 years ago

      one of the new incoming TV. directors said he would put a stop to whispering on his TV shows I cant remember his programme or channel but it has not been done. I find it very frustrating listening to whispering as I am 84 and cant hear the end of

    • profile image

      tkay1 

      3 years ago

      Elizabeth Mitchell is also whisper talking her way through her role on Once Upon a Time as the Ice Queen -- so annoying.

    • profile image

      Jimmy 

      5 years ago

      Its the bleedin' voice coaches, I reckon. It has clearly become very fashionable amongst many of the modern screen actors, mostly male, to lower one's voice to a whisper, full of menace and affected charisma. The usual effect achieves neither. I can't think of any of the great screen actors (Pacino, de Niro, Spacey, et al) who affect this whispering technique. Tally-ho!

    • profile image

      Ter 

      5 years ago

      It is so unrealistic. People in real life don't whisper everything they say. It comes across as very "actorish" like the stilted style in old movies from the 30s

    • profile image

      5 years ago

      Can't stand "whisper talkers" ---- very annoying. JUST TALK ALREADY!

    • profile image

      Help_Us 

      5 years ago

      I am glad I found this blog..cause whisper talkers drive me crazy!! If anyone watches "Spartacus" on Starz the character Crixus is one of the worst whisper talkers out there...only time he isn't whispering is when he is yelling....why are they allowed to do it..no idea.

    • profile image

      Andi 

      5 years ago

      You forgot Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica. I was always wondering, who he didn't want to hear, what he was saying.

    • profile image

      Danger247 

      6 years ago

      Thank you!!! I stopped watching 24 ONLY because Jack's whispering got on my nerves. I noticed Jim Caviezel's whisper immediately but I am still able to tolerate it so far. Someone please tell Hollywood that this is not cool! Oh, and shaking the camera around and flashing from scene to scene makes us SICK! Literally!

    • Borsia profile image

      Borsia 

      7 years ago from Currently, Philippines

      OK I hate to date myself but there are lots of us who's hearing isn't great and rather than try to figure out what the whisperers are saying we just change the channel.

      That said I have been in the 3rd world for so long that I am not familiar with any of these shows which means that there are 2 possibilities.

      1. they haven't been aired where I live.

      2. I changed the channel.

    • marek504 profile imageAUTHOR

      marek504 

      7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comments Alecia!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      7 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I never realized how much people whisper on television. The only show I've seen is Persons of Interest and while I could understand Jim Caviezel's whisper, the plot almost put me to sleep. Very cool hub!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)