The Voices Behind The Magic: Famous Actors Who Brought Animated Characters To Life
Currently, there isn’t a distinct category in the entertainment industry that recognizes voiceover performances annually like there is for best actors or actresses. However, that’s not to say that there haven’t been instances when outstanding actors have been awarded for their exceptional talents in voiceover acting (hello, Seth MacFarlane!)
If you’re like us, animated shows and movies have a special place in your heart. Some stories just make more sense when done in that medium. Though a character’s appearance plays a huge role in making them relatable, their voice is what gives them life, wouldn’t you agree?
Today, we take a look at some of the most famous animated characters and the voices behind them. Some are obvious, while others are pretty shocking! Pleasantly, of course. We hope you enjoy!
Anna Faris as Samantha From Cloudy With a Chance Of Meatballs
Anna Faris has starred in numerous films in her career, including The Hot Chick, Just Friends, and the Scary Movie series. The talented actress has performed in both live-action and animated movies, lending her amiable and upbeat voice to several of them.
For example, she played Samantha Sparks’ voiceover for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, which was a successful Sci-Fi animated film released in 2009. Faris also later used her voiceover talents in The Emoji Movie in 2017. A comic at heart, we can’t wait to see more of her in that space.
Glenn Close As Kala In Tarzan
Glenn Close is a very gifted actress who has portrayed a number of iconic roles throughout the years. One of her most well-known performances was as Cruella De Vil in the live-action of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. She gave such a convincing performance that many kids were afraid of her for years!
Glenn Close is known for her compassion and softness in real life despite her fame as a villain in her films. This quality was especially important when she portrayed Kala, the gorilla who raised Tarzan in the jungle after his parents passed.
John Travolta As Bolt
Seasoned actor and dancer John Travolta is known for his outstanding performances in a variety of cinema genres. In films like Grease, Hairspray, and Saturday Night Fever, he demonstrated his amazing dancing and singing abilities, winning the hearts of audiences.
He took a huge step away from his prior performances with the 2008 film Bolt, in which he lent his voice to the titular character. The film received two Golden Globe nods and an Academy Award nomination for Travolta’s portrayal of the endearing pup.
Emma Thompson as Captain Amelia In Treasure Planet
Emma Thompson is an excellent actress with a wide range of roles that she has mastered over the years. Though she had a prominent voice acting role in Treasure Planet, her live-action performances are what she is most well-known for.
Despite being an imaginative transition from the standard Disney formula, this 2002 movie didn’t do well at the box office. Luckily, Thompson’s career has flourished despite this setback. Nanny McPhee, Saving Mr. Banks, and the popular rom-com Love Actually are just a few of the big hits she’s been a part of.
John Goodman As Sully In Monster’s Inc.
John Goodman is a veteran actor who has appeared in countless films and television shows over the years. He is especially recognized and beloved for playing the memorable James P. Sullivan, or Sully, in the famous Pixar film Monster’s Inc.
Goodman’s performance as the lovable monster was widely praised, and the film was a massive success at the box office. The movie’s prequel, Monsters University, dropped a few years later, with Goodman reprising his role as Sully. This was also a huge hit, grossing over $700 million worldwide.
Bill Murray As Garfield
Bill Murray is certainly one of the most talented actors of this generation. He is known for his incredible skills and comic timing in big movies like Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and Lost in Translation, among others. Murray has gotten many accolades for his work over the years.
In Garfield: The Movie, he played the titular character, bringing his comedic talents to the big screen once again. Despite the film receiving mixed reviews, Murray’s performance was widely praised by critics and audiences alike. And now we’re craving lasagna!
Vin Diesel As The Iron Giant In The Iron Giant
Vin Diesel’s portrayal of the protagonist in The Iron Giant won widespread praise, even though the film underperformed its $50 million budget, grossing only $31.3 million. The film tells the story of a giant robot who befriends a young boy, and it received a cult-like following after winning nine Annie Awards out of 15 entries.
Diesel’s voice talents helped to bring the character to life, and the film is now regarded as a contemporary animation masterpiece. While Diesel is most famous for his roles in action movies like the Fast and Furious franchise, his work in The Iron Giant showed that he can excel in a wide range of genres.
Jim Carrey As Horton In Horton Hears A Who!
When it comes to comedy, Jim Carrey never misses. His unbeatable wit, combined with his hilarious facial expressions, made him a favorite among audiences worldwide. Carrey is no stranger to Dr. Seuss’s adaptations, having played “The Grinch” in the 2000 movie adaptation.
As Horton, he once again brought his unique talent to the big screen in Horton Hears a Who!, an adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s classic book. The film was a massive success and proved, yet again, that Carrey is a genius in a league of his own!
Rosie O’Donnell As Turk In Tarzan
Tarzan was a landmark movie in Disney’s animation history. With $130 million as the initial budget, it was one of the priciest Disney movies at the time. As expected, the movie was a commercial success, grossing over $448 million worldwide.
Rosie O’Donnell played the role of Turk, a feisty and fun-loving gorilla who becomes one of Tarzan’s closest allies. Her performance was praised for its energy and humor, and her character was said to add a lot of heart to the film.
Nathan Lane As Timon In Lion King
Nathan Lane is an award-winning American actor and writer who has achieved great success in both film and theater. He has worked on a considerable number of projects, including films like Stuart Little. However, his most famous role has to be as Timon in Disney’s The Lion King.
Lane played the meerkat in all the movies and has become an iconic figure in the Disney canon. His comedic timing and wit brought life to the hilarious character and helped make the film the timeless classic it still is.
Hank Azaria As Moe In The Simpsons
Hank Azaria is an American actor, comedian, and voice artist who has become famous for his work on The Simpsons. He has been part of the show since its second season, and his voice work has earned him several Emmy Awards.
Azaria is known for voicing a wide range of characters on the show, including Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. That said, his performance as Moe has become iconic, with his voice and mannerisms making the character one of the show’s most memorable.
Katey Sagal As Leela In Futurama
Katey Sagal will forever be famous for her unforgettable role as Peggy Bundy in Married…with Children. She is also recognized for her voice work as Leela on the hit animated series Futurama. Sagal lent her voice to the character from 1998 to 2013, making it her longest-running television role.
Additionally, she co-starred with Kaley Cuoco in the series 8 Simple Rules in 2002, playing the role of Cuoco’s mother. Sagal played Cuoco’s mother yet again in The Big Bang Theory in 2016, further solidifying her as a talented actress in both live-action and animation.
Idina Menzel As Elsa In Frozen
Now here’s someone with a voice to die for! Idina Menzel voiced Elsa in the 2013 Disney animated film, Frozen, which has since become a modern-day classic. Her performance as the fearless queen earned her critical acclaim and numerous awards.
The movie became the highest-grossing animated film of all time and won several prestigious awards, including two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and two Grammy Awards. Menzel’s “Let It Go,” which she both wrote and performed, was a commercial and critical success, reaching number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
David Spade As Kuzco In The Emperors New Groove
David Spade is best known for his humor and ability to deliver sarcastic and witty self-deprecating lines in his work. He voiced Kuzco in the animated film The Emperor’s New Groove, starring alongside John Goodman, who voiced the character Pacha.
The movie was a commercial success, leading to a direct-to-video follow-up titled Kronk’s New Groove, in which Spade reprised his role. His talent for comedy has led him to star in several other successful films, including Tommy Boy, Joe Dirt, and Grown-Ups, all of which were slapstick comedies.
Adam Sandler As Count Dracula In Hotel Transylvania
Adam Sandler’s talents as a comedian are undeniable. He seamlessly brings the comedy aspect to every romantic comedy he does. Although that’s what he’s most known for, he has also provided his voice for a number of animated film characters.
In the Hotel Transylvania series, he voices Count Dracula, one of his most well-known voice-acting roles. If you have watched any of the movies in the series, you remember how distinct Drac’s voice was. Well, you have Adam Sandler to thank for that.
Mila Kunis As Meg In Family Guy
Mila Kunis began her career as Jackie Burkhart in That 70’s Show at just 14 years old. She quickly gained recognition for her acting chops and was soon cast as the voice of Meg Griffin in the uber-successful animated show Family Guy.
Since then, Kunis has starred in numerous films such as Ted, Friends with Benefits, and Black Swan, earning critical acclaim for her performances. She is also known for being very personable together with her husband and former That 70’s Show co-star Ashton Kutcher.
Ed Asner As Carl Fredricksen In Up
Ed Asner provided the perfect voice for the lovable Carl Fredricksen in Pixar’s hugely successful animated film Up. Asner, who is known for his numerous iconic roles in film and television, earned critical acclaim for his performance as the beloved character.
He is also a record-breaking seven-time Primetime Emmy Award winner, making him the most awarded male actor in the history of the awards. Up itself received five Oscar nominations, proving to be a massive box office success and a favorite among different audiences.
Scott Weinger As Aladdin
Well, well, well, if it isn’t Disney’s luckiest thief cum Prince. Scott Weinger, known for his role as the voice of Aladdin in the 1992 Disney movie of the same name, has had a successful career in both television and video games.
Weinger has voiced Aladdin in various television shows and video games and also worked as a co-executive producer on ABC’s The Muppets. Fans of classic sitcoms may also recognize him from Full House and its recent Netflix spin-off, Fuller House.
Dan Castellaneta As Homer In The Simpsons
Dan Castellaneta is a highly acclaimed voice actor who’s made a significant impact in the world of animation. He’s best known for his portrayal of Homer Simpson, one of the most iconic characters in TV history. Castellaneta has also voiced other characters on The Simpsons, including Groundskeeper Willie, Krusty the Clown, and Abraham “Grampa” Simpson.
Castellaneta’s talents extend beyond the show, as he’s also provided voices for other popular animated series. He voiced several characters on Futurama, including the Robot Devil and Dr. Zoidberg, and others on Hey Arnold!, a popular Nickelodeon cartoon from the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Christian Bale As Thomas In Pocahontas
Christian Bale is a renowned actor whose dedication and ability to transform himself for various roles is nothing short of legendary. However, many people are unaware that he also lent his voice to the character of Thomas in Disney’s Pocahontas in 1995.
In addition to his iconic portrayal of Batman, he has demonstrated his versatility as an actor through his diverse roles. He showcased his voiceover talents with this unlikely role in Pocahontas, and frankly, we hope he picks up even more similar roles in the future!
Nancy Cartwright As Bart Simpson In The Simpsons
Nancy Cartwright has made a significant contribution to the world of animation through her portrayal of Bart Simpson, one of the most beloved characters in television history. In addition to voicing Bart, she has also lent her talents to other characters on The Simpsons, including Nelson Muntz and Ralph Wiggum.
If you’re a fan of the show, you know just how iconic Bart’s voice is, and it’s all thanks to this lady’s talents. Cartwright’s dedication to her craft has cemented her status as one of the most accomplished voice actors.
Alan Reed As Fred Flintsone in The Flintstones
Although Alan Reed was a successful movie actor, one of his most memorable roles was voicing Fred Flintstone in the beloved cartoon series, The Flintstones. He played the character not only in the original series but also in various spin-offs.
Although The Flintstones may not be as well-known among younger audiences today, Reed’s portrayal of the lovable caveman continues to be memorable. His distinct voice and comedy skills made Fred Flintstone a fan favorite and cemented his legacy as one of the most talented voice actors of his time.
James Earl Jones As Mufasa In Lion King
James Earl Jones is a talented actor with a six-decade-long career and is considered one of the greatest performers in American history. He is well-known for his iconic voice, with a powerful basso profundo that exudes gravitas and has earned him numerous accolades.
Jones voiced everyone’s favorite king, Mufasa, in Disney’s The Lion King. The movie was a monumental success and is still a classic. Jones’s performance is considered one of the highlights of the film, as his voice brings a distinct commanding presence to the character.
Jodi Benson As Ariel In The Little Mermaid
This lady’s performance as the effortlessly stunning yet stubborn Ariel was nothing short of iconic. While her two daughters may have bragging rights as the children of the beloved mermaid princess, Benson’s contribution to the film franchise is simply immeasurable.
She lent her voice to not only the original film but also its various spin-offs, including the television series and sequel. In addition to her work with Disney, Benson also voiced Barbie in the Toy Story franchise, earning her a Disney Legend award in 2011.
Alexander Gould As Nemo In Finding Nemo
Alexander Gould is a talented voice actor who has lent his voice to several memorable characters in animated films. In addition to his role as Bambi in Bambi II, he also portrayed the beloved character of Nemo in Finding Nemo, a Disney-Pixar film that has become a cultural touchstone.
Gould’s performance as the adventurous and curious clownfish was well-received by audiences and critics alike, and he reprised his role in the film’s sequel, Finding Dory, released 13 years later. His ability to bring these beloved characters to life has made him a favorite among fans of animated films.
Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury As Mrs. Potts In Beauty And The Beast
Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury was a British actress with an illustrious career spanning decades. Her talents garnered her so many high-profile accolades. In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Lansbury lent her iconic voice to bring the warm and loving Mrs. Potts to life.
The kind and motherly teapot sang the unforgettable ballad “Beauty and the Beast,” which, to date, is still catchy. Her contribution to the film and its legacy was immense and cemented her status as a true Hollywood icon. Thanks to her, Mrs. Potts is hands-down one of our faves.
Hugh Jackman As Rodney In Flushed Away
Hugh Jackman is certainly one of those actors whose diverse roles in the industry have cemented his place as one of the greats. Although he is best known for his iconic portrayal of the Marvel superhero Wolverine, Jackman has played a diverse range of characters throughout his career.
One of them is Roddy from the animated film Flushed Away. While this may not have been his most memorable role, Jackman brought his exceptional acting skills and versatility when he did it. That’s part of the reason he’s on our list today.
George O’Hanlon As George Jetson In The Jetsons
George O’Hanlon, who voiced George Jetson in the futuristic cartoon series The Jetsons, may not be a household name, but his character certainly is. The show, which takes place in the year 2062, features a family with unique gadgets that made all of us wish we were them as kids!
While The Jetsons may not be as well-known to the Gen Z-ers, it still evokes a sense of nostalgia for those who grew up watching it. The series is now a bonafide classic and has inspired numerous spin-offs and adaptations.
Minnie Drive As Jane In Tarzan
Minnie Driver’s portrayal of Jane in the animated film Tarzan brought to life one of Disney’s most famed characters. Her vocal talents, coupled with her striking resemblance to this version of the professor’s daughter, made her an excellent choice for the role.
Driver was praised for her ability to capture the character’s bravery, intelligence, and independence. While Tarzan is a classic story, this animated version brought a fresh perspective to the character of Jane, making her more than just a damsel in distress.
Michael Peter Balzar As Donnie In Wild Thoenberrys
Michael Peter Balzary, better known as Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, surprised fans when he lent his voice to Donnie in The Wild Thornberrys. Aside from voice acting, Flea has also appeared in several movies, like Back to the Future II and III.
Flea’s unique voice added an interesting dimension to the character of Donnie, who was known for his unintelligible language and primal behavior. Additionally, his versatility as a musician and voice actor highlights his talent and skill in various forms of art.
Arsenio Hall As Zeddemore In Ghostbusters
Arsenio Hall may be best known for his talk show, but he also lent his voice to Winston Zeddemore in the cartoon version of Ghostbusters. The show, called The Real Ghostbusters, was a spin-off of the original movie and ran for several seasons.
Hall’s unique voice gave the character of Winston a distinct sound, making him a memorable part of the Ghostbusters universe. His voice-acting skills demonstrate his ability to entertain audiences in various ways, whether on a talk show or as a character in a cartoon.
Fergie As Sally Brown In Charlie Brown
Stacy Ferguson, better known as Fergie, made a name for herself as a child star before becoming a singer and songwriter for The Black Eyed Peas. In addition to her on-screen performances, Fergie also lent her voice to Sally Brown in Charlie Brown.
She continued to voice Sally in spin-offs such as It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown; Snoopy’s Getting Married, Charlie Brown, and The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. Given Sally’s inquisitive nature, it’s interesting to wonder if Fergie shares similar characteristics. What do you think?
Mark Hamill As Joker In Batman The Animated Series
Mark Hamill’s portrayal of The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series has become iconic and earned him numerous awards and nominations. While he may be best known for his role as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Hamill’s voice-acting skills shone through in his performance as the villain.
His ability to capture the character’s maniacal laughter and sinister tone helped elevate the show’s success. Hamill’s versatility as an actor, both on-screen and off, highlights his talent and skill in bringing characters to life in various forms of media.
Jessica Walter As Fran Sinclair In Dinosaurs
Jessica Walter was a celebrated actress who earned immense success in her incredible career with several accolades under her belt. She received widespread acclaim for her performances in a number of films and television series, including the well-known series 90210.
In the 1990s, she provided the voice for the cartoon character Fran Sinclair in Dinosaurs. Despite the show’s relative obscurity, it still has a devoted fan base, with many of them nostalgically rewatching the show while reminiscing about the good old ’80s and ’90s.
Meg Ryan As Dr. Blight In Captain Planet And The Planeteers
Meg Ryan, an experienced actress known for her work in romantic comedies, made a voice acting debut in Captain Planet and the Planeteers as the evil Dr. Blight. Though it was initially difficult to picture Ryan as a villain because of her pleasant voice, the writers knew what they were doing.
The popularity of Ryan’s portrayal of Dr. Blight demonstrated the breadth of her acting abilities. Although her foray into villainy was successful, most of her fans still prefer her in her customary romantic roles, where her contagious charm and undeniable talent stand out.
Tim Allen As Buzz Lightyear In Toy Story
A timeless masterpiece, Toy Story continues to enchant viewers of all ages to date. Tim Allen’s voice acting brought the legendary Buzz Lightyear to life with the ideal balance of toughness, sternness, and warmth. Nobody else could possibly have done a better job of conveying the character’s soul.
The film’s straightforward and wholesome plot has been grabbing audiences’ attention for years, and its endearing characters, gorgeous animation, and catchy soundtrack have all contributed to its ongoing success. Now that we’ve talked about it, we think we’re due for a rewatch sometime soon!
Kathleen Turner As Jessica Rabbit
Kathleen Turner’s distinctive and raspy voice has made her an actress who’s easily recognizable and memorable. Despite not having a conventionally attractive voice, her vocal quality is addictive and pleasing to the ear. Turner’s talent and versatility were on full display when she provided the voice of the seductive and elegant Jessica Rabbit.
What most people may not know is that she worked on Who Framed Roger Rabbit while pregnant, which somehow makes it even more awesome! Her portrayal of the iconic character is unmatched, and it’s impossible to picture any other actress bringing the same level of beauty and allure to the role.
Matthew Broderick As Simba In Lion King
Matthew Broderick is a talented American actor who has made a name for himself in film and television. He has also become a regular actor on Broadway, showcasing his versatility as a performer. Broderick provided the voice of adult Simba in the beloved Disney classic, The Lion King.
Simba’s character resonates with audiences of all ages, and Broderick’s voice acting skills perfectly capture the complex emotions of the character. Honestly, it is hard to imagine anyone else bringing the same depth and authenticity to our favorite animated lion!
Ariel Winter As Sofia In Sofia The First
Ariel Winter is a young actress who gained popularity thanks to her role as Alex Dunphy in the critically acclaimed mockumentary series Modern Family. Her fame has been growing exponentially, and she has made her mark in voice acting as well.
Winter lent her voice to the gentle and talented Princess Sofia in the popular children’s show Sofia the First. Kids everywhere adore Sofia. With her talent and growing popularity, it’s exciting to see where Ariel Winter’s career will take her next.
Oprah Winfrey As Eudora In Princess And The Frog
Oprah is a global icon famous for her talk show and philanthropy. Though she doesn’t act much, she voiced the character of Eudora in The Princess and the Frog. In the film, Eudora is the mother of the ambitious and determined Princess Tiana.
Oprah’s voice brought a motherly warmth and wisdom to the character, and her life experiences added depth and authenticity to the role. This role, in addition to her work on The Color Purple and A Wrinkle in Time, proves that this lady is indeed multi-talented.
Brittany Murphy As Luanne Platter In King Of the Hill
Brittany Murphy was a stunning and beloved actress. She appeared in many iconic movies, such as Clueless, Don’t Say a Word, 8 Mile, and Uptown Girls. Her talents also extended to voice acting, as evidenced by her role as Luanne Platter in the animated TV series King of the Hill.
Luanne is a character that is both lovable and relatable, and Murphy’s voice perfectly captured her wit and charm. Although she passed away tragically at a young age, her legacy lives on, and her performances will continue to be cherished by fans all over the world.
Tom Selleck As Lewis In Meet The Robinsons
Blue Bloods star Tom Selleck is not only an excellent actor in movies and shows, but he’s also lent his lovely voice to animated movies, too. He has quite a distinct face and voice, is very authentic, and many people love the movies and shows he’s starred in.
He voiced and interpreted Cornelius Robinson in Meet the Robinsons. This film was such a success that it had its own movie and a video game, too. Tom Selleck voiced the same character in both. Though he’s now almost 80 years old, his work is still quite fresh in our minds.
Jaleel White as Sonic In Sonic the Hedgehog
Jaleel White has kept himself busy throughout the years. He played in the sitcom Family Matters as the character Steve Urkel, a kind of odd and nerdy neighbor. Though that’s the role most people know him for, it’s not his only famous one.
In 1993, he voiced Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog. This is undoubtedly the most famous hedgehog in the world to this day. Another mind-blowing fact is that White was only 16 when he did it! He voiced the character again in Sonic Underground in 1999.
Joey Lawrence as Oliver In Oliver & Company
If you grew up in the ’90s, you probably know who Joey Lawrence is. And if you are attracted to men, you definitely know who he is! Joey is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and actor. In case it wasn’t obvious, he is very pleasant to look at and quite talented at that.
Considering his popularity back in the day, it’s no wonder he was the voice of Oliver in the animated movie Oliver & Company in 1988. Besides his contribution to the animated movie, he acted in the shows Melissa & Joey, Hawaii Five-0, and many more.
Orson Welles As Unicron In The Transformers: The Movie
Orson Welles is considered one of the greatest American directors, writers, and producers of the 20th century. Whenever we hear his name, we immediately think of his blockbuster classic film Citizen Kane. That is what he is most famous for.
Considering his great success in the movie industry, it’s clear that he was very talented. That said, it appears that his talent was not only limited to writing and directing. In 1985, he lent his voice to Unicron, a villain in The Transformers: The Movie.