Aunty Donna have delved into many mediums – stage shows, albums, children’s books – and now they’ve added dubbing to that list. The absurdist Melbourne sketch trio have today been announced as the voices of three corpses in the Australian release of the new fantasy film Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.
The film has a star-studded cast, including Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith and Hugh Grant. Directed by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley (the latter of Freaks n’ Geeks fame), it’s set to bring the world of the roleplaying game of the same name to life with a lighthearted touch. A brand new trailer is out today ahead of its exclusive cinema release on March 30 – watch it above.
Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane of Aunty Donna play Corpse #1, Toke Horgath and Sven Salafin respectively. The heroes of the film chance upon them while looking for an ancient relic. The corpses harbour relevant information about the whereabouts of the relic, having been present at an ancient battle where it was lost.
The protagonists are able to revive them to ask them five questions before they die again. Although they bear no physical resemblance, you can faintly hear the twang of the wacky Melburnians under the cobwebs. None of the corpses prove particularly helpful, though, as their perspective on the ancient battle is unfortunately limited by their lack of involvement and untimely deaths.
NME spoke to the Aunty Donna boys in the whirlwind of a Hollywood press junket, an unfamiliarly distinguished setting for them. But it didn’t mean that they took the interview any more seriously.
“How did we land this role? I know Chris Pine,” Ruane says. “I knew he was shooting the film and I said, ‘Chris, would you up be for getting us a part?’…And you know, Chris always comes through.”
“And I know Michelle Rodriguez through…” Kelly adds.
“Through Chris!” Ruane interjects.
“Yes, through Chris, who I don’t know,” Kelly says.
“Because Chris and Michelle were doing this, I introduced Michelle to Broden,” Ruane says.
“I call Michelle Mrs Fast Cars because of her other film work,” Kelly says. “I said ‘Mrs. Fast Cars, can we be in the movie?’ And she said, ‘I think Zach’s talking to Chris’.”
Bonnano, the last to speak, adds: “And I know Broden. And I met Broden through Justice Smith, I believe.”
The trio are actually trained actors, meeting at the University of Ballarat. But the group chose comedy after finding independent theatre a futile pursuit. In 2020, the trio hit the big time with Netflix series Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun, and this year will launch an ABC series about running a cafe in a Melbourne laneway.
Before that, though: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Ruane claims they practised dying in the style of the 1990 American psychological horror film Flatliners.“We said to the Paramount publicity team, can you organise it? They wanted to record the dub one week, and we asked to push it back so we could flatline. They said, ‘that’s not really necessary’, but we said we’d just like to Flatliners.”
Although Aunty Donna are in just one scene, the recording was more gruelling than expected. The local voiceover director had an issue with Ruane’s particular attempt at a British accent.
“He had a problem with how I said no, because Australians…we say naoooohh,” he says. “He kept being like, you’re saying it too Australian and I didn’t know how to not. And it was just take after take of me going like n-, n-. N-, n-ooooooo.”
“Thank god I only had to say yes. Otherwise we would have been there for a year,” Bonnano says. “I had a mild psychotic episode, listening to you, because I was like he’s doing it, he’s doing it!”
Much of the interview is derailed by the trio’s attempt to tailor their answers to what they believe the NME audience exclusively wants to read about – music.
“This is a music magazine, right? Do you not want to talk about the lute?” Bonnano asks.
“Chris Pine’s character is a bard, and he plays on the lute,” Ruane explains.
“It might not be a lute,” Bonnano says.
“It’s a stringed instrument, at least,” Kelly says.
“I just want to say if you like music, you’re gonna love this film,” Ruane says. “Because a lot of people reading NME probably think ‘I’m just a guitar man, I’m just a guitar gal. I’m not going to be interested in this film, I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons’. But here’s the great thing about this film: it’s an adventure, it’s a romp, and it really is for everyone.”
Kelly interjects: “To quote Biggie Smalls, ‘Gimme the loot, gimme the loot.””
“Is he talking about a L-U-T-E? It’s unknown. Some things are better left unknown, but not the plot of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which you should find out by seeing it at the movies,” Bonnano says.
“March 30,” Ruane adds.
Asked what they’d like to dub next, Ruane tries again to play to type.
“I would love to dub all of Julian Casablancas’ vocal tracks on ‘Is This It’,” he says.
“For me, ‘The New Abnormal’, I think, is their magnum opus,” Bonnano adds.
Kelly says he would like to redub all of his lines in their upcoming ABC TV show, Coffee Cafe – something he claims will cost the broadcaster $90,000, plugging the program in the only way he knows how. “They don’t have a choice.”
As NME’s time with Aunty Donna ends, the trio think they’re off the line and immediately start workshopping their material to refine it for the next interviewer.
“The answer to every question should be about the lute,” Bonnano grumbles.