Similar to what Google Assistant has done, Amazon is now giving customers the option to hear some familiar voices in addition to Alexa’s default voice. Today the company kicked off its celebrity voice program, and it’s starting with Samuel L. Jackson. Amazon announced in September that this was coming, and as of today you can pay $0.99 and have Jackson respond to your Alexa requests for music, the weather forecast, and more. You can also ask questions that are specific to Jackson, including queries about his career, specific roles, or his interests outside Hollywood.
To enable this feature, you can say “Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson” or purchase the required Alexa skill manually. Jackson doesn’t replace Alexa’s main voice, you’ve got to specifically request the voice by saying “Alexa, ask Samuel L. Jackson,” followed by your question.
Instead of relying entirely on prerecorded phrases, the Samuel L. Jackson voice is powered in part by Amazon’s neural text-to-speech model. It’s like a lightweight deepfake, but the actor obviously gave his permission to stand in for Alexa’s standard voice. He also recorded plenty of audio for Amazon to base everything on. You’ll hear the neural responses if you ask for the weather, as one example, but other responses are definitely canned.
Since you might have a range of ages in your house, Amazon offers both explicit and clean versions of Samuel L. Jackson’s celebrity voice. The profanity-laced option will feel more true to the actor’s on-screen work, but if you want to tone it down, you can do so in the Alexa app settings menu.
Amazon has said that celebrity voices will cost $4.99 after an introductory discount. The feature doesn’t yet support lists, reminders, skills, or shopping for Amazon items through Alexa. But everything else should work fine; just keep in mind that English is the only language on offer right now.
Correction 3:00PM ET December 12th: The article has been updated to note that Samuel L. Jackson’s voice does not replace Alexa’s, but can be requested on demand.