In the world of audiobook and documentary narration, Stephen Fry’s voice is one of the most recognizable and loved by English-speaking audiences. However, the British actor has suddenly found himself at the center of an unexpected debate due to a new documentary narrated in his voice.

At the CogX festival, held in London, Fry shared with the public a fragment of a historical documentary apparently narrated by himself… but the surprise was great when Fry clarified that He had never uttered any of the words heard in the documentarynor had he given permission to ‘recreate’ it.

Fry explained that in the past he had come across cases where voice recordings were staged, but it was obvious that this was not what was involved on this occasion, but rather an artificial, flexible voice, capable of modulating words to adapt to the meaning of each phrase.

The voice (identical to the original) what fans heard was generated by artificial intelligence that had been trainedto imitate his tone of voice from his readings of the seven volumes of the Harry Potter saga, which Fry had narrated for British English audiobooks.

“My agents didn’t know this was possible”

The actor has acknowledged that it is still unclear whether his contract to narrate the Harry Potter audiobooks included some clause that would allow the use of your voice in other projects. However, if such a clause existed, the issue would not be less controversial…

…since its use through AI poses a relevant legal and ethical dilemma, in which the entertainment industry questions artists’ rights to their own voicesopening the door for them to be used in unwanted contexts… since they can, in practice, dispense with the interpreters themselves.

In Fry’s own words,

“They could make me read anything, from a call to storm Parliament to hardcore ___, all without my knowledge and without my permission. (…) my agents have gone crazy: they had no idea that something like this was possible” .

This incident also comes at a time when The SAG-AFTRA actors union—to which Fry belongs—has been on strike for months.protesting low salaries, working conditions and, precisely, the use of AI in the film industry.

In fact, the president of the union, Fran Drescher, declared in a press conference that AI “poses an existential threat” to the creative industries and that actors need protection so that “their identity and talent are not exploited without consent or remuneration.”

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