Samuel L. Jackson’s Alexa Voice Getting 30,000 New Phrases, Including Five Times the Explicit Content, Plus His Own ‘Wake Word’Variety — Todd Spangler
The actor’s voice skill on Alexa, which Amazon introduced a year ago, is adding over 30,000 new phrases on the platform with new jokes, roasts, stories and other content. Based on popular demand, that includes five times the amount of explicit content. And he’s getting Alexa’s first celebrity “wake word,” letting customers say “Hey, Samuel” to invoke Jackson’s iconic baritone voice on Alexa-enabled devices.
As part of Jackson’s new repertoire on Alexa, if you ask “Hey Samuel, roast me” you will get responses including “Why the f— do you want to be roasted? You really think you can handle that?” and “I’m just gonna ignore that request, because if I really roast you, your sorry ass will be destroyed on impact.”
Users can disable the explicit mode on Jackson’s Alexa skill, which is priced at 99 cents. According to Amazon, 74% of customers who use the voice skill have profanity turned on. After the initial launch, fans told the company they wanted even more off-color language.
For Amazon, beefing up Jackson’s virtual voice on Alexa is designed to spur people to engage with the service even more — and therefore increase the likelihood they’ll use it to purchase something from the ecommerce giant. Amazon Echo is the industry’s dominant smart speaker, holding about 70% share of the U.S. smart speaker market, followed by Google devices at 32%, according to research firm eMarketer.
“Customers love having Samuel L. Jackson on their device, and that’s why we’re so excited to launch our first celebrity wake word with Samuel L. Jackson, making it even easier for customers to access this great experience,” said Toni Reid, Amazon’s VP of Alexa experience and Echo devices.
Next year, Alexa will add more celebrities you can swap out for the generic synthesized female voice. In early 2021, Amazon plans to launch Alexa voice skills for Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and two “well-known U.S. celebrities,” according to a rep.
On Alexa, Jackson often comes across as lightheartedly cranky. Saying “Hey Samuel, speak to me,” may elicit the response, “What the hell do you even want me to say?”
But he shows other sides of himself. Ask “Hey Samuel, what are you up to?” and one of his replies is, “I’m thinking about Chadwick Boseman and his family. He was a talented artist and a giving brother whose legacy will live on forever. I cherish the memories he leaves us all with.” He’ll also share that “I’m getting excited to work with Ryan Reynolds again. We’re going to be doing an animated series together,” referring to Quibi’s forthcoming “Futha Mucka.”
In addition, Jackson’s Alexa voice will have new responses when you ask about the weather (“Look at that hot ball of gas and fire! No, don’t actually look”) or request a joke (“Why do Jedis always burn their pancakes? They never turn to the dark side”).
Note that Jackson didn’t need to sit in recording studio to speak the thousands of new phrases for Alexa. His virtual voice is synthesized using Amazon’s Neural Text-to-Speech technology, which replicates speech patterns after being “trained” by a set of a person’s voice recordings.