Here’s a Step-by-Step Look at How ‘Star Wars’ Movies Are Dubbed Into Spanish

Lead Photo: Photo: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm
Photo: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm
Read more

Between Lalo Alcaraz’s Princess Lupe (a mashup of la Virgen de Guadalupe and Princess Leia) and the family who cholofied R2-D2, Han Solo, and Leia – US Latinos and Latin Americans have made Estar Guars Star Wars their own. The character they’ve perhaps taken the most liking to is Arturito, aka R2-D2. Across Latin America, people address the snarky robot sidekick through the Hispanicized version of his name, something that came as a result of the Spanish dub of the original Star Wars film. But nowadays, in the newer films he is distinctly called R2-D2. But voice actors still can’t shake that old name. “The most famous bad translations are Arturito and R2-D2,” said Héctor Gómez Gil, who’s spent about a decade directing the dubbed versions that play in Latin America. “I’ve been correcting that ever since I took the franchise.”

This is just one of the behind-the-scenes tidbits that Remezcla Film Editor Vanessa Erazo and Latino USA Producer Jeanne Montalvo learned when they decided to take a deep dive into how these movies, with their very specific vocabulary, are adapted for Spanish-speaking audiences. Erazo teamed up with Latino USA for Silver Screen – an entirely film-centric episode that looks at the relation between Hollywood and Latin American cinema. But this segment is entirely dedicated to una galaxia muy, muy lejana.

The idea for this story, titled “Dubbing Rogue One,” stemmed from one tweet. On December 26 of last year, Diego Luna confirmed that on top of playing one of the lead roles in Rogue One: A Star Wars story, he also voiced the Cassian Andor heard around Latin America.

Through a series of interviews with the Director Héctor Gómez and Katya Ojeda, who translated the script, as well as Jessica Ángeles, the actress who voiced Jyn Erso, Erazo got a sense for the challenges dubbing present, including preparing a script that’s neutral enough for moviegoers in all of Latin America. “This is not that easy because, well, there are a lot of countries and even though we speak the same language, we have different ways to use certain words, different uses, different slang, so we have to use the most neutral word we can find,” Ojeda said.

And though we hope you can appreciate all the work it takes to bring Star Wars to a Spanish-speaking audience, we have a feeling that R2-D2 will remain Arturito for some. Listen to the story below.

We teamed up with NPR’s Latino USA to co-produce Silver Screen, a special episode entirely dedicated to Latinos and film. Listen to the entire episode here.