Happy Feet: Hugh Jackman
Happy Feet was a film featuring a who’s who of big-time cast members. Among them doing vocal work, the film included Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Nicole Kidman, Fat Joe, Anthony LaPaglia, Steve Irwin, Brittany Murphy, and Carlos Alazraqui. Also voicing a main character — specifically one of the lead penguins named Memphis — is Hugh Jackman.
We know Jackman mostly as a physical actor in thriller-type productions. However, the casting director clearly thought that he had the vocal chops necessary for this role. Based on the movie, he more than delivered solid performances.
Image Source: Christopher Polk/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images
The Lion King: Jonathan Taylor Thomas
When Jonathan Taylor Thomas landed this gig, he was already starring on arguably the most popular sitcom on network television. Of course, he was the middle son in Tim Allen’s Home Improvement. People absolutely LOVED this show — which surely catered to JTT getting this spot among the unbelievable ensemble vocal cast.
Before Simba became an adult (voiced by Matthew Broderick), baby Simba was vocalized by Thomas. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t asked to do the singing portions of the character. That role went to Jason Weaver — most likely known as older brother Marcus in the sitcom Smart Guy.
Image Source: MovieStillsDB.com
Homer Simpson: Dan Castellaneta
For nearly forty years, Dan Castellaneta’s most well-known role has been as TV’s most popular animated father, Homer Simpson. Castellaneta first voiced the buffoonish patriarch for short animated films that would air during The Tracey Ullman Show (he was a cast member at the time). The performance began as an impression of Walter Matthau, though Dan evolved it into the recognizable one that we know today in the three years before The Simpsons was adapted into a half-hour sitcom.
Castelleneta also gives voice to other beloved Simpsons characters, like Barney Grumble, Mayor Quimby, Krusty the Klown, Grandpa Simspons, and Groundskeeper Willie. In addition to that, he has also done voices for shows like Hey, Arnold, The Batman, The Tick and even occasionally pops in live-action series.
Image Source: Colin McPherson/Sygma via Getty Images
Fantastic Mr. Fox: George Clooney
The titular role of this Wes Anderson classic went to none other than George Clooney. This film was adapted from a Roald Dahl novel way back when (roughly 50 years ago). By nabbing Clooney as the leading ‘voice’ for this project, Anderson procured a guy who not only has a recognizable tone, but one who’s constantly perfected the leading man role — even if he’s technically an animated fox in this case.
Image Source: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
Bugs Bunny: Mel Blanc
While many actors have since done the job, the original and still most recognizable voice of Bugs Bunny is Mel Blanc. Often called “the man of a thousand voices”, Blanc gave life to Warner Bros. animated mascot for over 50 years.
Originally dabbling in vaudeville, Blanc moved to radio in the early 1920s and quickly caught the attention of Hollywood. While working with Warner Bros in the ’30s and ’40s, Blanc voiced characters like Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird, and Foghorn Leghorn. He continued to be prolific through the 1960s and beyond — voicing dozens of characters for Hanna Barbera and even some well-known commercials (he was the original voice of Toucan Sam).
Image Source: Dave Luchansky/Getty Images
Bolt: John Travolta
Bolt was a critically acclaimed Disney film when it came out in 2008. Of course, Disney is no stranger to landing some real star power as it cast the primary roles. The leading protagonists in this film were voiced by the two people in this picture: Miley Cyrus as Penny, and John Travolta as Bolt the dog.
Bolt the character was a perfect match for Travolta. Both have natural charisma — and Travolta’s vocal prowess jumped off the screen as a brilliant fit for the character’s composition. The movie was so well received that it garnered an Oscar nomination and multiple Golden Globe Awards nominations.
Image Source: Michael Buckner/Getty Images
Puss in Boots: Antonio Banderas
A fan favorite of the Shrek franchise, Puss is brought to life by well-known Spanish actor Antonio Banderas. The actor has voiced the mercurial feline in every Shrek film except for the first, as well as two of his own spin-off feature-length adventures.
Banderas got his start in theater after studying the dramatic arts in Málaga. He caught the eye of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and made the jump to film. After becoming an international star in the ’80s, Antonio broke out big in the ’90s and has since starred in several hit films including Desperado, Philadelphia, The Mask of Zorro (and its sequel), and Frida.
Image Source: Michael Buckner/Getty Images
Spongebob Squarepants: Tom Kenny
While sharp-eyed comedy fans might recognize Tom Kenny from his appearances on the sketch comedy series Mr. Show, most will know him best through his voice work — particularly his now twenty-plus-year run as the voice of everyone’s favorite animated porifera, Spongebob Squarepants. Kenny has dozens of credits, voicing characters for shows like Adventure Time, The Batman, CatDog, The Fairly OddParents, and Rocko’s Modern Life. It was actually on that last show, voicing Rocko’s best friend Heffer Wolfe, where Kenny would meet marine biologist, animator, and future creator of Spongebob Squarepants, Stephen Hillenburg. Tom Kenny has earned two Daytime Emmys and one Annie Award in his time bringing this beloved character to life.
Image Source: Monica Schipper/FilmMagic
Coraline: Dakota Fanning
Coraline was a bit of a reprieve from what Dakota Fanning is used to doing. Up until this point, the young actress was lauded as operating in the realm of drama. We’re talking about stellar performances in I am Sam, Man on Fire, and War of the Worlds.
In this situation, she was able to voice the character of a young girl who embarks on a coming-of-age tale involving fantasy elements and a parallel universe. While it’s a bit dark with some horror features, Fanning hits it out of the proverbial park here.
Image Source: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Family Guy: Mila Kunis
This one should be all too familiar to those who watch Family Guy. It was a major coup for the show to cast Mila Kunis as daughter Meg. Kunis — at the time of her joining the show — was arguably the biggest actress in Hollywood (she still is a megastar). Being able to use her effervescent voice for the Meg character was a brilliant move. It gave the show immediate credibility (in addition to it being iconically funny), and it provided Kunis with a different platform off-screen.
Image Source: Mark Davis/Getty Images
The South Park Kids: Trey Parker and Matt Stone
Like most of the male cast that populate the not-so-quiet little mountain town of South Park, the four main characters are voiced by series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Trey voices Stan and Erich, while Matt voices Kyle and Kenny.
The two met while attending the University of Colorado Boulder. Parker and Stone produced a couple of independent films before they got their actual big break creating a video Christmas card for a Hollywood executive. Made in the same animated cardboard style that would become the hallmark of South Park’s early seasons, the video was an early viral sensation — and led to a deal to produce South Park for Comedy Central.
Image Source: Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Beavis and Butthead: Mike Judge
Both Beavis and Butthead were voiced by their creator, Mike Judge. The characters first appeared in a short film featured during MTV’s Liquid Television. The show was picked up for series and ran for seven seasons, showing the misadventures of two Gen-X slackers who spent as much time watching music videos as they did getting into trouble.
Mike Judge was born in Ecuador and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He bounced around pursuing different interests until he found his passion in animation. The highly prolific director, writer, and producer would go on to create King of the Hill, Silicon Valley, and feature films including Idiocracy and Office Space.
Image Source: Rick Kern/WireImage
The Berenstain Bears: Michael Cera
We all know Michael Cera as the witty, quirky, sometimes off-beat kid in various teen movies (Juno, Scott Pilgrim, Youth in Revolt, Superbad, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist). He’s also an iconic performer in Arrested Development. What some people might fail to realize is that he was a child actor in his native Canada before making it big in the States.
One of those roles came in the television adaptation of The Berenstain Bears. For two seasons and 26 episodes, Cera voiced the character of Brother Bear. He then left the show and was replaced by another actor for the final season. Still, we think Cera probably made the right decision considering the trajectory of his career.
Image Source: MoviestillsDB
Finn The Human: Zack/Jeremy Shada
Finn, the human protagonist of Pendleton Ward’s long-running animated fantasy series Adventure Time, has been portrayed by two different voice actors who happen to have a very interesting connection.
The show began its life as a seven-minute short film made almost entirely by Ward. At that time Finn was voiced by Zack Shada, a young actor from Boise, Idaho. The short would eventually go viral, and the series was commissioned by Cartoon Network. When it was time to re-cast for the series, it was Jeremy Shada, Zack’s younger brother, who won the role.
There must not be any hard feelings between the two of them as they are both members of the same Los Angeles-based band Make Out Monday.
Image Source: John Sciulli/Getty Images for Xbox
Philip J. Fry: Billy West
Philip J. Fry is the lead character of Futurama, Matt Greonig’s 30th-century follow-up to The Simpsons. Fry is voiced by Billy West, arguably the modern-day Mel Blanc. Originally a musician, West worked in radio before transitioning to voice acting in the late ’80s. Blanc has hundreds of credits and has voiced several other iconic characters in animation, including Doug Funnie from Doug, Stimpy from Ren & Stimpy, and the Red M&M.
The comparison to Mel Blanc is doubly apt. West is an accomplished mimic and has portrayed characters that Blanc made famous for other projects — including Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.
Image Source: Joe Scarnici/FilmMagic
Shrek: Cameron Diaz
The Shrek franchise truly is a juggernaut. It’s considered to be the second highest-grossing animated franchise in the history of film. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz carried this series with their vocal brilliance.
After her roles in The Mask, There’s Something About Mary, Any Given Sunday, Being John Malkovich, and Charlie’s Angels, few would’ve guessed that she’d then become a legendary voice-over actress. From back when the first film came out (2001) until the end of time, Diaz will always be associated with the protagonist Princess Fiona.
Image Source: Fyles-Allport/Avalon/Getty Images
Marge Simpson: Julie Kavner
One of television’s most famous Moms, Marge Simpson is voiced by the indelible Julie Kavner, who has now spent the better part of forty years giving life to the gravelly-voiced matriarch.
Like Dan Castellaneta, Julie was a cast member on The Tracey Ullman Show when she was tapped to lend her voice to one of Matt Greonig’s animated shorts. Before that, she was already an accomplished actress, having earned many nominations and a win for Supporting Actress Emmy for her work on Rhoda in 1978. The Los Angeles native also has a long list of live-action performances in films including Awakenings, Radio Days, Forget Paris, and Hannah and Her Sisters.
Image Source: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images
Tommy Pickles: E.G. Daily
Little Tommy Pickles is the industrious, diaper-clad leader of The Rugrats and the de facto protagonist of the show. He’s voiced by E.G. Daily, an actress and singer from Los Angeles who does both live-action and voice work. You might have heard her in Babe: Pig in the City where she voiced the titular pig, or perhaps in The Powerpuff Girls or Happy Feet. Her highest profile live-action performance was when she portrayed Dottie in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, though she also had large supporting roles in films like Valley Girl, Streets of Fire, and Better Off Dead.
Image Source: Vince Bucci/Gettty Images
Stuart Little: Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox’s upbeat and energetic voice truly is a seamless pairing for animation. When looking at the thoughtful, kind, lovable character of Stuart Little, we can’t envision a better choice than to use the affable and quite popular Canadian actor.
Of course, the trilogy of films was based on E.B. White’s novel from the mid-’40s. Fox was called back to do voiceover work on all three of the films — which commercially did very well.
Image Source: Getty Images
The Little Mermaid: Jodi Benson
Ariel, the lead character from The Little Mermaid, is portrayed by actress and singer Jodi Benson. Originally from Rockford, Illinois, she originally began performing on stage, landing Broadway roles in the mid-’80s. It was during a production of Smile in 1986 that she made the contact that would lead to her auditioning and winning the part of Ariel. This launched a voice acting career for film, television, and video games that continues to this day. She also continued performing on stage and even earned a Tony nomination in the early ’90s for her performance in the music Crazy For You.
Image Source: Bob Riha Jr/WireImage
Avatar Aang: Zach Tyler Eisen
Created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the most successful franchises produced by Nickelodeon. For the entire run of the original series, Zach Tyler Eisen was the voice actor of Aang, the titular Avatar. According to his IMDB, Eisen is originally from Connecticut and he recorded most of his voice-over work from there. Before that, Zach has credits for animated series like Little Bill and The Backyardigans.
Since his work on Avatar, Eisen has apparently transitioned into production work, with credits as both an Assistant Director and various roles related to sound recording.
Image Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
The Minions: Ensemble Cast
Who doesn’t love a Minion?
Originally appearing in Despicable Me in 2010 as, you guessed it, minions of the supervillain Gru, the lovable yellow creatures have become de facto mascots for the animation company Illumination.
The three most well-known Minions are Kevin, Stuart, and Bob. While they have a somewhat limited vocabulary, they are voiced by accomplished actors. In the original film, each had a different actor: Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, and Jemaine Clement. Both Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin designed the minions, with Renaud providing the voice for the minions in each subsequent film that they’ve appeared in.
Jemaine Clement is, of course, the famous actor, comedian, and musician who was one-half of Flight of the Conchords and star of films like What We Do in the Shadows and Men In Black 3. He was only credited for the first Despicable Me film.
Image Source: Mike Pont/WireImage
Dexter: Christine Cavanaugh/Candi Milo
Dexter’s Laboratory was one of Cartoon Network’s first popular original series. Its original run was from 1996 to 1998, with a brief revival from 2001 to 2003 and a TV movie between the two in December 1999. The voice of Dexter, the precocious genius who often found himself at odds with his frenetic older sister, was done by two women. For the first three seasons, it was actress Christine Cavanaugh, who you might best know from voicing Chuckie from Rugrats, Gosalyn from Darkwing Duck, or the titular pig in the film Babe.
After Cavanaugh retired from acting in 2001, Candi Milo took over the role. Another prolific, Annie-nominated voice actress who has also performed on screen and stage, you might have heard her work most recently in Space Jam: A New Legacy where she played Granny.
Image Source: Raul Archuleta/FilmMagic
Kim Possible: Christy Carlson Romano
Created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, Kim Possible was the second animated original series produced by the Disney Channel. Kim Possible, the titular crime-fighting antagonist of the series, was voiced by Disney Channel vet Christy Carlson Romano. The Connecticut-born actress made her Broadway debut at the age of 14. She’s probably best known as Ren from Even Stevens, which remains one of the Disney Channel’s most beloved series.
Romano has truly diversified as a performer and content creator today. She continues to act, in addition to recording audiobooks, directing films and music videos, launching a podcast network and even penning a young adult novel.
Image Source: Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images
Batman: Kevin Conroy
While there have been dozens of animated Batman projects to date, Batman: The Animated Series remains the most critically acclaimed of the bunch. The series, which ran from 1992 to 1995 and produced 104 episodes, stars Kevin Conroy as Batman. It gave audiences what has become the definitive voice of the Dark Knight.
Conroy studied drama at Juilliard. He was an actor for stage and screen before he first stepped into the VO booth to portray the Caped Crusader. Conroy would go on to voice Batman in an endless parade of DC Animated projects and video games. He also remains the only actor to voice Batman and plays him in live-action (as he had a guest appearance as an alternate universe Bruce Wayne on an episode of The CW’s Catwoman).
Image Source: Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic
Garfield: Lorenzo Music
The 1980s was the height of Garfield mania. It was the most popular comic strip in America and it seemed like every other car had a Garfield stuffed animal hanging in the window. The lazy, lasagna-loving cat was given 12 television specials. Then in 1988, his very own animated series called Garfield and Friends. For these, as well as countless commercials, video games, and licensed toys, Garfield was voiced by Lorenzo Music.
Music was a writer and actor who got his start in the 1960s on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Music would go on to co-create The Bob Newhart Show and write for Rhoda, a Mary Tyler Moore Show spinoff. Music would have a recurring role on the spinoff which helped him gain popularity among the public. ’80s kids might also recognize him as the voice of Peter Venman in The Real Ghostbusters.
Image Source: MoviestillsDB
Jimmy Neutron: Debi Derryberry
Debi Derryberry was the voice of Jimmy Neutron in both the film and the computer-animated series that followed. This accomplished voice actress began working in the late 1980s and has lent her talents to film, television, video games, and even some anime dubs.
Debi is also an accomplished singer and musician, producing music for preschoolers. She has released three CDs – “What a Way To Play”, “Very Derryberry”, and “Baby Banana!” – and her track “Baby Banana” charted on SiriusXM Radio.
Image Source: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Elsa: Idina Menzel
Idina Menzel is both the singing and speaking voice behind the adult version of Elsa in Disney’s Frozen. Menzel is a Broadway veteran (sometimes referred to as the “Queen of Broadway”) as well as a singer and prolific star of film and television. She is a Tony Award winner for her performance in Wicked and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A New York native, Menzel studied drama at Tisch and landed her first major role when she was cast in Rent in 1995, a role that she would reprise when the play was adapted to film in 2005. Her filmography also includes episodes of Glee, roles in Enchanted, 2021’s Cinderella, and a supporting role in the thriller Uncut Gems.
Image Source: Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage
Genie: Robin Williams
Genie was the breakout character from Disney’s smash animated feature Aladdin in 1992. In this and the third film in the series, Genie was voiced by the beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams. The genius comic brought life to the role with his improvisations, with the producers letting Williams riff off of the script and thus inspiring the animators.
Williams would go on to lend his voice to some other animated productions like FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Happy Feet, and Robots.
For the second Aladdin film as well as the animated series, Genie was voiced by veteran VO heavyweight Dan Castellanata.
Image Source: Dave Hogan/Getty Images
Mulan: Ming-Na Wen
The lead character in Disney’s 1998 animated feature Mulan was voiced by Ming-Na Wen. Her breakout role came in The Joy Luck Club in 1993 — which opened up several new opportunities in film and television (including a major role on NBC’s ER). She remains a prolific actress, recently popping up all over Disney’s Marvel and Star Wars franchises, appearing in series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.
The singing voice for Mulan was provided by Lea Salonga, a Filipina singer, producer, and actress on the screen and stage. Mulan was her second Disney film as she also performed the singing voice of Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin in 1992. Lea is also the first woman of Asian descent to win a Tony Award, for her work in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon.
Image Source: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic
Optimus Prime: Peter Cullen
In both the original 1980s animated series and the recent blockbuster Transformers film franchise, the leader of the Autobots Optimus Prime has been voiced by Canadian actor Peter Cullen. His career began in the 1960s working in Canadian radio. In the ’70s and ’80s, his voice work career took off with him earning dozens of film and television credits for projects as varied as Knight Rider, Pac-Man, Rainbow Brite and even providing the vocal noises for the gigantic primate in the 1976 remake of King Kong and the monster in Predator.
Outside of Optimus Prime, this in-demand voice actor’s highest profile roles are Monterey Jack from Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers and Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh among hundreds of others.
Image Source: Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Peter Griffin: Seth MacFarlane
Like many of the voice actors on The Simpsons, it seems reductive to simply say that Seth MacFarlane, creator and executive producer of Family Guy, is the voice of Peter Griffin. MacFarlane also voices Stewie, Brian, Quagmire, and a handful of others. This is also in addition to voicing various characters on Family Guy’s sister show American Dad.
MacFarlane started in animation working as a writer and storyboard artist for Hanna-Barbera on shows like Dexter’s Laboratory and Johnny Bravo. Soon after that, he caught the attention of Fox and within a few years had pitched and sold Family Guy to the network, becoming the youngest showrunner in animation at the time.
MacFarlane would, of course, go on to be one of the most successful creators in television — not just in prime-time animation but also in live-action film and television.
Image Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
The Iron Giant: Vin Diesel
The Iron Giant is a beloved cult classic animated feature film. It also marked the directorial debut of Brad Bird — who would go on to have great success with Pixar and beyond.
The titular Iron Giant, an enormous alien robot that seems to have a distaste for violence and a taste for metal, is voiced by Fast and Furious and xXx star Vin Diesel. While the character utters very few actual words (and plenty of grunts and groans), Diesel’s performance is still an impressively nuanced one.
While Vin is mostly a live-action star, he has one other similar VO performance with a character that also has a famously limited vocabulary: Groot from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Image Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Bart Simpson: Nancy Cartwright
Bart Simpson, the mischievous elder child of the Simpson family, is voiced by Nancy Cartwright. Nancy was already a working actress and voice artist when she auditioned for the role of Bart Simpson. She had been interested in voice work at a young age and was mentored early on by veteran voice actor Daws Butler through correspondence after she reached out to him by mail.
Cartwright performs several popular characters in the Simpsons menagerie, including Nelson Muntz, Todd Flanders, and Ralph Wiggum. Outside of The Simpsons, you might recognize her work from shows like Rugrats, Pound Puppies, Kim Possible and Snorks. Cartwright has also leveraged her success to create a production company and has written and produced a feature film of her own.
Image Source: Colin Davey/Getty Images