Nova Scotia

Alan Arkin voices Minions crime boss character in Cape Breton sound studio

Minions: The Rise of Gru opened in theatres over the weekend and one of the main roles was voiced in Cape Breton's Lakewind Sound Studios by Academy-Award winner Alan Arkin, a seasonal resident of the island.

The movie star — who lives part-time in N.S. — recorded the voice of Wild Knuckles at a local studio

Lakewind Sound Studios owner Fred Lavery, left, Academy-Award winner Alan Arkin, centre, and sound engineer Mike Shepherd pose in the studio after two days of voiceover work for the latest Minions movie. (Submitted by Brad Ableson)

A Hollywood summer blockbuster featuring oddball yellow characters contains more than a little Cape Breton content.

Minions: The Rise of Gru opened over the weekend and one of the main roles was voiced in a local sound studio by a famous seasonal resident.

Academy-Award-winner Alan Arkin does not play a minion, but his character, Wild Knuckles, has a leading role in the movie.

His voiceover work for the part was recorded over two days at Lakewind Sound Studios in Point Aconi, N.S.

Sound engineer Mike Shepherd told Information Morning Cape Breton it cannot have been easy for Arkin to bring Knuckles to life.

Although the director was on the line from Paris, other producers and associates were on the phone or computer from Los Angeles and there was a co-director in the studio, Arkin was alone in front of a microphone during the 2019 recording session. The film was subsequently delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"To listen to him get into character and there was nothing for him to react to, it's just kind of amazing to see him turn it into this character in front of your eyes," Shepherd said.

Shepherd took his wife and two kids to see the movie. His youngest found it hilarious and was not alone.

"To be honest, I think my wife laughed the most of anybody in the theatre, so you know, it's not just for little kids. It really is a great movie," Shepherd said.

It was also interesting to see how that solitary studio work translated onto the big screen.

Shepherd said while recording, he didn't realize how large a part Arkin was playing.

"You don't see any of this coming together and the second line in the movie is Alan's lines and it's kind of amazing to see it, the final product."

Arkin, who lives part-time in Cape Breton, took a picture with the Lakewind Sound staff and Brad Ableson — a longtime animator on The Simpsons and a sketch artist and co-director on the Minions franchise — gave them a sketch as a memento.

Sketch artist and co-director Brad Ableson gave the crew at Lakewind Sound Studios in Point Aconi, N.S. a sketch he did while Alan Arkin was voicing a character in the latest Minions movie. (Submitted by Brad Ableson)

"We had a little bit of fun in amongst all that work," Shepherd said.

Minions: The Rise of Gru opened July 1 and broke a box office record, earning around $125 million in the U.S. alone on the Fourth of July weekend.

Along with Arkin, it has a cast of star voice actors including Steve Carrell, Julie Andrews and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Alan Arkin was nominated for an Oscar four times and won best actor in a supporting role for Little Miss Sunshine in 2006, and got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019. (Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)



Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at

With files from Information Morning Cape Breton


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