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'Voice of God' inspired voice of HBO

Like everyone who watches HBO documentaries, I have been listening to Liev Schreiber’s disembodied voice since the mid-1990s. Friday, I met him in the flesh and learned of an interesting inspiration for his work as a narrator.

“I am a huge fan of John Facenda,’’ he said, referring to the famed “Voice of God’’ on NFL Films until his death in 1984. “You can’t replace that stuff. It’s just classic.’’

While Schreiber never has been much of a spectator sports fan, he said narrating dozens of sports shows has helped him appreciate the games people play more.

“I think it probably accounts for my interest in ‘Goon,’’’ he said, referring to a hockey movie he is in that is out on video on demand and will be released theatrically in the U.S. March 30. “HBO got me inside the lives of professional hockey players.’’

Schreiber narrated the Rangers/Flyers "24/7" series that led up to the most recent NHL Winter Classic.

Schreiber said his work with HBO has been “really, really incredible. I think of the entire body of my work that’s some of the stuff I’m most proud of and actually had the least to do with.’’

The association with HBO began after former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg heard Schreiber narrating a documentary on the history of rock and roll in 1995.

“He almost fired me when he saw how young I was but stuck with me and mentored me and just continued to come back to me for work,’’ said Schreiber, now 44. “I’ve been having the time of my life with them and I hope it never ends.’’

What is his favorite documentary? “To me it’s usually the one I’m doing now; but I have a really special place in my heart for the Bird/Magic one,’’ he said, referring to the 2010 film “Magic & Bird, A Courtship of Rivals.’’

“I just thought that was terrific. That story just knocks me out. Larry Bird is this kind of stoic, competitive, aggressive guy and that point in the show where they get to when Magic says, ‘After all we’d been through the first guy to call me when I got sick was Larry,’ that just knocked me out.’’


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