Project takes Levy into robotic world

Eugene Levy says he relishes doing voice work for animated films such as “Astro Boy” because it requires him to stretch as an actor.

Eugene Levy

Eugene Levy

TORONTO — Eugene Levy says he relishes doing voice work for animated films such as “Astro Boy” because it requires him to stretch as an actor.

“It’s a good exercise for me because I get taken places that I rarely go in my work,” the former SCTV funnyman said.

“You’re elevated out of that safety zone. You’re doing things that you can’t believe you’re actually doing.”

Levy, whose previous animation work includes Over the Hedge and Curious George, says the experience of going into a studio all by himself and conjuring up an over-the-top voice is an odd one.

“Everybody records individually . . . Normally you’re in there just doing your lines. The director will read through a scene with you reading the other parts.

“The funniest thing is when you have to do your grunts and groans. And they say: ‘Give us a handful of grunts, like you’ve been hit in the stomach,”’ said Levy, demonstrating a series of his best “oomphs” and “aaahs.”

Based on the 1960s TV series, Astro Boy tells the story of a scientist (Nicolas Cage) who builds a robot version of his son, Toby, after the child is killed in an accident.

He soon realizes that his creation lacks the “human-ness” of Toby and rejects the boy, who finds companionship with a rag-tag group of children and their caretaker (Nathan Lane) in a junkyard filled with broken-down robots.

Levy, who was raised in Hamilton and has a home in Toronto, plays Toby’s high-strung robot butler Orrin.