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Wilhelm Von Homburg Speaks As Vigo

 By Paul Rudoff on May. 29, 2011 at 7:39 AM , Categories: Ghostbusters 2, Cast & Crew
Wilhelm von Homburg
Max von Sydow

For years we all thought that Wilhelm von Homburg, who appeared on screen as Vigo in Ghostbusters II, also provided the speaking voice for the character. Even though precedent was set in the first film, with an uncredited actress (Paddi Edwards) providing the voice for Gozer, instead of the actress (Slavitza Jovan) who appeared on-screen as the character, we all just always took it for granted that Wilhelm was also the voice of Vigo. I guess it was probably due to Don Shay not writing a behind-the-scenes companion book for the second film as he did for the first. Imagine how much stuff we wouldn't even know about the first film were it not for Don's book Making Ghostbusters.

It wasn't until Ghostbusters: The Video Game came out in 2009 - 20 years after Ghostbusters II - that we would find out the truth. Initially, we all thought that the reason Max von Sydow was voicing Vigo in the game was because Wilhelm died in 2004. But the more we all listened to Max's voice in the game, the more authentic it sounded. Then rumblings were heard here and there stating that Max was the voice of Vigo in the movie.

In June 2009, Crispy Gamer interviewed John Melchior, former Executive Producer on Ghostbusters: The Video Game, about having Max von Sydow in the game.
"Yes," he told me when I asked him to confirm that the casting of von Sydow in the game was a direct result of the actor's involvement in the 1989 sequel to Ghostbusters. "That was our understanding and what we were told." Melchior added, "We were trying to make this game as authentic as possible. This was a promise I made to the talent and to Sony: where we could we would go to the actors that played those roles, the ones that fans grew up with and know."
In November of the same year, another official confirmation would come out, this time from one of the film's special effects crew members, William Forsche. (brought to everyone's attention in March 2010 by Proton Charging)
And poor Wilhelm von Homburg, it seems noone told him his voice was replaced with Max von Sydow's. He found out first hand at the screening and soon after stormed out of the theater.    : (
Before I continue on, and get to what is really the point of this whole article (since all I've been doing so far is providing backstory), let me take a moment to comment on something that irks me. If the makers of the video game knew that Max was the voice of Vigo in the movie, why did they say in interviews that they would be using a soundalike (because Wilhelm von Homburg died)? Were they misinformed or just towing the company line? Here's a quote from Creative Director Drew Haworth to IGN in December 2007 as an example
During our visit the team did its best to keep the story under wraps, but Drew was happy to tell us that: "Vigo will be making a cameo appearance. Unfortunately that actor had passed away so we'll have a sound-alike."
The reason I've been giving all of this backstory about the voice of Vigo in the movie Ghostbusters II (and consequently, the video game), is because even though the deep, commanding voice we all know and love as Vigo is NOT the voice of Wilhelm von Homburg, we have been afforded the rare opportunity to actually hear Wilhelm deliver Vigo's famous speech!

Ghostbusters II special effects crew member, William Forsche, has been posting behind-the-scenes videos to his various YouTube accounts for years. Recently, he posted a few new videos which Ghostbusters Fans has detailed into a nice list. One of these new videos shows Wilhelm von Homburg standing on the painting set/stage, acting out his role for the shots where he talks to Janosz. The best part is that we get to hear his actual voice delivering Vigo's lines.

The line delivery is a little hard to hear in the original video, so I decided to strip out the video, edit down the audio to just Wilhelm talking, and maximize the volume. I left in the loud droning noise heard in the background, so as to preserve the fidelity of the audio. Under the photo at the top of this article are two embedded audio player bars. The one on the left will play you Wilhelm's delivery of Vigo's speech, while you'll hear Max's delivery from the final film on the right (Janosz's lines have been removed).

Major thanks to William Forsche for making this video available to the fans, and for the photo that appears at the top of this page.


Comment from: Rolo [Visitor]

First time I ever read about this.
Sorry Mr Wilhem, but Max gave Vigo the best voice.
Thanks for sharing!!

Jun. 6, 2011 @ 11:58
Comment from: Andy [Visitor]

Von Homburg was a German boxer and no professional actor, so I had some doubts we hear his real voice in GB2. I think hearsay became fact that von Sydow did the voice in GB2. Maybe Forsche just picked that up - or was he really involved in the post production (editing, sounds etc.)? We need a word from von Sydow or Ivan Reitman.

Jun. 8, 2011 @ 12:44
Comment from: [Member]

Andy - Max von Sydow has a pretty distinctive voice, which naturally sounds very much like Vigo. I don’t think this is a case of hearsay becoming fact.

Jun. 8, 2011 @ 13:16
Comment from: Andy [Visitor]

Yeah, maybe. A comment from a guy named ‘Nathan’:

“I asked [Michael C. Gross on Facebook] about max Von sydow […]. he said sydow didn’t voice Vigo but then someone else who worked on the production said it was him and Michael said he was too busy in post to remember who did what”

Jun. 26, 2011 @ 12:58
Comment from: Paul [Visitor]

It’s interesting to see how misdirection affects perception here: listening to Max von Sydow’s voice (and knowing that it is Mr. von Sydow speaking), it’s impossible not to recognize his distinctive voice in the comparison audio clip. And yet, even though I’ve seen the movie several times, I would never have put his voice to the visual image of “Vigo” at the time—simply because I wasn’t expecting it.

Jan. 20, 2013 @ 17:56
Comment from: [Member]

I know exactly what you mean, Paul. I closed my eyes and listened to Max’s dialog in the movie Shutter Island, and all I heard was Vigo! There was no doubt in my mind, once I took the visuals out of the equation, that I was hearing Vigo’s voice in that film.

Jan. 20, 2013 @ 20:52

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