We get so easily absorbed in our favorite animated movies that we give little thought to the famous faces who voice our beloved characters. After all, it is the voice that creates the character – otherwise, they’d be nothing more than bulging mass of computer animation on our screens.
Taking the leading role in any production is a challenge. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on the stage, behind the camera or in a sound booth. So when movie studios hire actors to lend their voices to multi-million dollar animations, they know that they need to choose wisely.
That’s why the majority of the most iconic cartoon characters have been voiced by Hollywood royalty with an extensive resumé in the industry. Be warned though, learning the identity of the actor behind your favorite character may change everything you felt about them…
1. Ellen DeGeneres as Dory in Finding Nemo
We all fell instantly in love with Dory when she graced our screens in 2003 because the forgetful fish possessed many qualities which made her relatable, and the voice behind our favorite fish is none other than talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, who we also know and love.
2. Tom Hanks as Woody in Toy Story
Tom Hanks’ voice is instantly identifiable so shame on you if you didn’t realize that he was Woody in the 1995 classic Toy Story, which came just one year after his legendary, Oscar-winning performance as Forrest Gump.
3. Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story
Tim Allen is the king of franchises – not only has he been immortalized as the kick-ass Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, but also as Santa Claus after he appeared in The Santa Clause trilogy. We can’t decide if we love him or his characters more!
4. Danny DeVito as Phil in Hercules
Danny DeVito’s resumé reads like a list of your favorite movies, from Matilda to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. So when Disney was casting Phil in Hercules, they knew straight away that DeVito was their man. But he originally declined the role. After a lot of auditions, the directors approached him again and he accepted. Can you imagine Phil being played by anyone else?!
5. Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi in The Lion King
We all hated Shenzi. The evil hyena featured in our nightmares as children. However, had we known then what we know now, maybe we wouldn’t have been so scared. After all, what’s scary about Whoopi Goldberg?!
6. Matthew Broderick as Simba in The Lion King
You may know Matthew Broderick best for his portrayal of cheeky chap Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. So it may surprise you to learn that he lent his voice to Simba – a character with little in common with his previous roles. As The Lion King gets a makeover in 2019, the role of Simba will be taken over by Donald Glover, who is also set to star in the new Star Wars spin-off, Solo: A Star Wars Story.
7. Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario in Despicable Me
You may have (wrongfully) assumed that Professor Nefario is played by an old man with greying hair. In fact, the blundering scientist is brought to life by British comedian, Russell Brand, who you may be more familiar with for his short-lived marriage to Katy Perry than his acting career.
8. Rowan Atkinson as Zazu in The Lion King
That’s right, Mr. Bean is the voice of Zazu in The Lion King! It appears that the 1994 classic was full of surprises!
9. Tim Curry as Nigel Thornberry in The Wild Thornberrys
Tim Curry is one of the most diverse actors in the industry. Throughout his career, he has flicked from a transvestite in The Rocky Horror Picture Show to the snobby concierge in Home Alone, and then Nigel Thornberry in every ’90s child’s favorite cartoon, The Wild Thornberrys!
10. Brad Bird as Edna Mode in The Incredibles
Don’t be ashamed to admit it; you thought Edna Mode was voiced by a woman. That was the casting director’s intention until they heard the movie’s director, Brad Bird, read the lines.
With Incredibles 2 on the way, let’s refresh your memory on Edna Mode and her unique voice:
11. John Cleese as Jean-Bob in The Swan Princess
The Swan Princess had a whole host of quirky characters, but none were as bizarre as Jean-Bob. We loved his eccentric ways, which may be partly because he was voiced by none other than British acting legend, John Cleese.
12. Robin Williams as The Genie in Aladdin
The late Robin Williams was seriously talented. He could completely command screen time, even if he only had a few lines, and he completely stole the show when he played Genie in Aladdin.
13. Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots in Shrek
Who else could play the fierce Puss in Boots than Antonio Banderas, the man famous for playing the character in human form in The Legend of Zorro?!
14. Ben Stiller as Alex the Lion, David Schwimmer as Melman the Giraffe and Chris Rock as Marty the Zebra in Madagascar
Madagascar had a star-studded line-up – from Ben Stiller and Friends’ star David Schwimmer to comedian Chris Rock. Jada Pinkett-Smith also featured in the movie, voicing Gloria the Hippo. Meanwhile, her husband was lending his voice to a very different character…
15. Will Smith as Oscar and Angelina Jolie as Lola in Shark Tale
Will Smith and Angelina Jolie appeared alongside each other in the iconic Shark Tale, and their fishy counterparts were made to look like scaly versions of themselves! You have to hand it to the animators – there’s a striking resemblance.
16. Mike Myers as Shrek and Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona in Shrek
We all knew Mike Myers was behind the voice of Shrek (if you didn’t, shame on you!). However, did you know that blonde bombshell Cameron Diaz is behind the red-headed Fiona?
In 2019, The Lion King is set for a makeover. This video will acquaint you with the star-studded cast, which includes Beyoncé!