Rochette becomes Rochelle in Disney voice role

Olympic, world medalist lends voice to Quebec version of animated film Planes

Canadian legend Joannie Rochette has discovered another performance art.
Canadian legend Joannie Rochette has discovered another performance art. (courtesy of Joannie Rochette)


Related Content Top Headlines
By Lois Elfman, special to
(07/18/2013) - "It's a small propeller plane, a really cute plane. She races. She's really fierce and competitive. She wants to win. She won't give up," said Olympic bronze medalist and six-time Canadian champion Joannie Rochette about her alter-ego Rochelle in the Disney movie Planes, which opens in the U.S. and Canada on Aug. 9.

Rochette, 27, was called into audition for the animated feature in May. As the character Rochelle is French Canadian, just like Rochette, the retired skater was asked to read for both the English and French-Canadian versions. The part in the English language version went to Veep and Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but Rochette brought her best Québécois accent to the studio on July 4, when she recorded Rochelle's lines for a French language version of the film.

"I didn't know how I would do," Rochette said. "I really enjoyed the experience. It was good. I had a coach helping me."

Although she did not record her lines with any of the other actors, Rochette was able to see the scenes for which she was recording the lines and hear the other actors. The engineer was also able to do a quick in-studio edit so she could see Rochelle speaking the lines she'd recorded.

"We did many different versions," Rochette said.

She was asked to change her inflection and delivery.

"I don't know which ones they will choose," she said.

She was in the recording studio for approximately six hours, doing lines for about 10 scenes. The voice coach would read the line for Rochette, and then they would do it together. Then, she would do it herself until the session director heard what he liked. Finally, he would ask her to switch up her delivery a little bit.

"I could actually hear the voices of the other planes because I was the last one to record mine," she said. "So, I knew what their voices sounded like and how I should respond.

"I knew if I had to be more romantic, more cute, more mean," she added. "It would have been fun to be with an actual actor in the studio recording it. It was weird sometimes because I had to scream and I had to be very expressive, but I was alone in a pitch-black studio."

Rochette likened the experience to skating, citing when a choreographer tells you to exaggerate a move, to make it convey to the entire audience. Because the audience doesn't see the actor's face -- only hearing the voice with an animated character -- sometimes the voice needs to be a bit over the top.

Prior to recording Rochelle's lines, Rochette was skating in shows in China and South Korea. She's now enjoying some downtime at home.

In August, Rochette will go to Rwanda with Right to Play, an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. She said she and her boyfriend will likely take their own trip to Tanzania either before or after.

As questions continue about whether she will return to competition, Rochette said it's not in her plans as of now. Her former coach, Manon Perron, no longer coaches, so it would be quite hard to assemble a new team.

"I loved competing and I loved the challenge: training, having a routine every day," she said. "Now that I do shows, I do my own routine. No one is waiting to kick my butt at the rink.

"I've been doing shows and I'm happy like that," she added. "There's really no change in my life."