THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS is the best selling fiction book in history, it has never been out of print, it is the first novel written in English...and is a timeless story that can give us the courage to live out our faith in a culture that often stands against us. A culture that makes us believe that the easy path is the one to take. A culture that questions absolute truths.
Since this film is both animated and an allegory, it is a perfect tool to help missionaries share the Christian journey in countries where believers often face persecution.
The filmmakers have committed to donate this film to missionaries, home church leaders, underground church leaders, and others around the world, in 100 languages. The film is already being translated into 26 languages most often in regions where Christians face extreme danger, including Mandarin, Spanish and Farsi.
Australia's Best Impersonator, comedian Ben Price was thrilled to be a part of The Pilgrim's Progress movie (Ben's 4th movie) where he played 3 characters; Judge Hategood, Vanity Fair Chief and Cruelty. A national talent at an international level, Ben has performed all over the world bringing his 200+ voices. He was a Grand Finalist on Australia's Got Talent in 2011 and he's been on The Today Show several times, Good Morning Washington, Good Morning Texas, Kid's WB and CT Style and many more.
Discovering his talent for impersonating voices at the age of 10, Ben used his amazing talent to entertain classmates and pull pranks. Since starting out he has developed an impressive repertoire of over 200 character voices, including Dr Phil, Donald Trump, Liam Neeson, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, John Cleese, Barack Obama, Tom Cruise, Donkey, Shrek, Homer Simpson and many more. His impersonations are exact in sound, and in full costume and make-up, Ben can also look the part, mimicking his subject's exact mannerisms.
Q: Ben thank you for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself, you are an impersonator and you can impersonated the voices of over 200 characters. How did you develop this talent?
No worries. Well I have developed these since I was 10 years old and so I think there's now just over 200. I never count them so it could be way more or maybe 199, but it's about 200 ish. A lot of the early ones I don't get to do as much like Frank Spencer or Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Sylvester the Cat. But they're there in case I need to do them. I watched a lot of TV and movies as a kid and teenager and I can watch something and subconsciously study the way they talk, act and copy mannerisms.
Q: You are also a committed Christian. Tell us about your faith and how you came to know Christ.
Absolutely. I grew up as a Christian and always have had that strong faith. About 10 years ago I had become somewhat lukewarm and I was still going to church, Bible Study etc. But I had lost my focus being totally centred on Christ. I went through some severe anxiety for a short season and it was horrible but it caused me to really look up and get my focus on Christ. I knew I was a sinner and I didn't deserve the Grace of God and I'm so thankful for the cross and not only has it saved me from hell but Christ ever lives to save us and so by His Grace I am sold out and consumed now and there's no turning back!
Q: Recently, you have contributed your voice to the new movie "The Pilgrim's Progress." What first attracted you to this epic movie?
As a kid I loved the story and had a children's version of the book and had seen it acted out as I went to a Christian School. I saw it also on a 2008 version of the film. It's so accurate of the Christian walk and seeing all the trials but also how we can have inexpressible joy and be equipped to overcome the trials and difficulties.
About 8 years ago I actually saw the movie, the 2008 version and I thought if only someone could animate this like Shrek or Madagascar. I love those films and do a lot of their voices for my kids. So when I saw it was being done I immediately got excited and contacted the producers. They were in Dallas, Texas and were impressed with my repertoire and loved that I could do non-American voices as it was set in England. Although I don't think an Aussie voice would have cut it in that setting. So it was fun to do some British accents. I do a John Cleese impression and that really helped with one of the characters I play.
Q: You contributed the voices of three characters. Who were these characters? Did you get to choose which characters you wanted?
They chose the characters for me. I think they would have got me to do more but many had already been voiced. I was in the Vanity Fair scene which is a really fun scene where a lot of the characters are quite sinister and more comedic. I played Judge Hategood, Vanity Fair Chief and Cruelty. Lovely characters, ha.
Q: All three characters are antagonists to Christian. Was it easy for you to get into character to portray them?
Yes. In some ways playing antagonists are easier than the hero of a story. They sent me drawings of all the characters and I gave them a voice and character. It was quite easy as I knew the story and Robert the director was awesome to work with on really getting the character across.
Q: Besides the characters you portrayed, who else is your favorite character in the movie? And do you have a favourite scene?
I love the Evangelist character who was voiced by John Rhys-Davies from Lord of the Rings. He has a great voice. Also Christian the main character is so good. I love the story and can really identify with the allegory of the narrow path that he's on and his heart for the lost to be saved.
Q: How has the "Pilgrim's Progress" impacted your own life? And how does this movie still speaks to us today?
It's had quite a significant impact on my life. I re-read the book a couple years ago and was so amazed at how Bibilical it is. Every chapter has so many scripture references which I love. It's said to be the 2nd most influential book of all time to the Bible and as a believer I can see why. It still speaks to us and through the film will be for a new generation and it'll also be an encouragement to believers as it is for me; in terms of Christianity has never been under such attack and seeing how we can come through with triumph. It's never been more pertinent.
Q: What's next for you?
Aside from enjoying time with my family. Revelation Media who produced the film, are looking at doing The Holy War also by John Bunyan and Pilgrims Progress 2 which is Christiana's journey. I'm hoping to do a bunch more of the voices. I've also got a project I've done for Christmas with Bible Society Australia and I speak a lot at corporate events and churches.