David Campbell on voicing a koala and the dog-eat-dog world of Zootopia

17 February, 2016 by Harry Windsor

Campbell's character in Zootopia.


Disney's Zootopia will be released in local cinemas on March 17.

The film is directed by the men who made Tangled and Wreck-It-Ralph, and from the studio whose Frozen was a monster hit. Expect it to be big.

Local performer David Campbell, who made his name as Johnny O'Keefe in the musical Shout! and is currently on mornings with Sonia Kruger on Channel Nine, was enlisted by the filmmaking team to inject some ocker into the menagerie of voices and creeds that populate the film.

"I was working with Disney on a few other things, including their Concert Under the Stars, and they asked me. I hope it was my ears and journalistic abilities that got me over the line", said Campbell.

He plays a newsreader named David Koalabell – so named after an online poll conducted through Disney's AU/NZ Facebook page. 

Campbell calls the recording process "really interesting. I was Skyped in by the voice director in California and we quickly got onto the scene".

"We had to sync my lines properly with the guide animation so the Zootopia team could then draw around it. It was easier said than done, but fascinating. As a fan of these type of films I was geeking out!"

The newsreader character is being refashioned as a local in each territory – "I believe the newsreader is a Moose in Canada".

Campbell is best known for his voice, and is gearing up for Disney's Concert Under the Stars at Sydney's Opera House on February 28.

"I am learning lyrics to very wordy but fun songs. Today is 'Under The Sea' from The Little Mermaid". 

The polymath performer also runs the Hayes Theatre, committed to producing musical theatre, in Sydney's Darlinghurst.

"Keeping on the Alan Menken [composer of The Little Mermaid] train, my production company is getting ready for a national tour of [Menken's] Little Shop of Horrors, which tours the country starting next week". 

Given he became involved with Zootopia through Disney in Concert, can we expect David the koala to be a crooner?

"I think David Koalabell wouldn’t want to ruin any journalistic cred he may have on just being a singer. He worked hard to get in the job he has. Zootopia’s media landscape is a dog-eat-dog world".

Zootopia opens March 17. Watch the trailer here.