A strong vocal personality can make a cartoon really come to life. The voice of a cartoon gives it a distinct character and differentiates it as much as the animation does. There are millions of animated characters, from the Disney classics of our childhood to the fantastical modern creations of current animated films. Anyone could be the voice behind a character, yet we find that some characters go hand in hand with their real-life counterparts.
Sometimes animations are made with a voice actor already in mind. Recently there has been a trend of putting celebrities as the voices of animated characters, recognizable voices with recognizable faces. This was not always the case; while millions of children and adults might recognize the voice of Nancy Cartwright, who did the voice of Bart Simpson, no one would recognize her walking down the street. There is a reason for the turn to A-list actors for their voices. They are marketable.
10. Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) as Donnie from the Wild Thornberrys
The feral boy found by the Thornberry family, Donnie, is voiced by an equally wild man, Flea. Flea is the bassist for the band Red Hot Chili Peppers and is considered one of the greatest bassists of all time. Apart from his talent, Flea is also known for his crazy energy on stage and his unique style. Flea lent his voice from 1998 to 2004 to the Nickelodeon show The Wild Thornberrys. He voiced Donnie, a boy raised by orangutans that is adopted by the Thornberry family.
While Donnie speaks a lot he doesn’t really say much. Most of the time he babbles wildly, makes animal sounds and only occasionally says a comprehensible English word. Flea and Donnie share the wild spirit, crazy eyes, and lack of shirts.
9. Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Simba in The Lion King
The light-hearted rebellious attitude of young Simba was perfectly captured by young Jonathan Taylor Thomas. It makes sense that the slightly sassy attitude of the to-be king of the jungle would be played so perfectly by a to-be teen idol and child star. The Disney film, released in 1994 and was the highest grossing release of that year, though the box office success can’t be entirely attributed to Thomas’ charm.
From the beautiful face, the irresistible smile and rogue boyish charm Simba and Thomas have plenty in common.
8. John C. Reiley as Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph
Wreck-It Ralph was released in 2012 by Disney and was a hit. The film earned $471 million worldwide and both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Reiley, an acclaimed comedic actor, may not be as large as Ralph but they certainly share a lot of features. Both are quite mischievous, with quirky smiles and rowdy hair.
Reiley however, admitted to the Telegraph that he didn’t want to voice the film at first. Mainly because animation didn’t seem like too much fun, he explained. He was quickly won over by the character though. He was also excited to work with Disney, who had made so many of his childhood films.
7. Ed Asner as Carl from Up
Up, the 2009 Disney/Pixar Film, was a huge success, grossing $731 million in its theatrical release and received 5 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Carl, the movie’s main character, is a 78 year old curmudgeonly man who has lost his beloved wife. The character was partially influenced by Lou Grant, a fictional character played by Ed Asner.
Ed and Carl could very well be brothers. But when first shown the character Asner joked “I don’t look anything like that”, as he told Exclaim! magazine. Maybe the actor doesn’t have a good idea of what he looks like because the resemblance is uncanny. The thick white eyebrows, the square glasses, round noses and kind eyes are features that make Ed and Carl similar looking men.
6. Rowan Atkinson as Zazu in The Lion King
English actor Rowan Atkinson has a very diverse resume. Known for his roles as Mr. Bean and Blackadder, but he may not be so recognized as the dignified blue bird in The Lion King. Atkinson’s expressive eyebrows and mouth are two features that make him particularly distinct. The bird is proper and dignified, though a little nervous and jumpy, and has a dry sense of humor. Originally Nathan Lane auditioned for the part of Zazu, but we are thankful that the part went to Rowan Atkinson who really brought the character together.
5. Kristen Wiig as Lucy in Despicable Me 2
Both Kristen and Lucy are slim, enthusiastic and quirky ladies, with ( sometimes for Kirstin) reddish hair. Wiig, once an SNL cast member, also made an appearance in the first Despicable Me as Miss Hattie, a mean and short lady, quite unlike Wiig.
Wiig’s comedic talent added greatly to the film’s success, and as Chicago Tribune writer Michael Phillips put it, “Wiig’s clever hesitations and comic timing help save the day.” Wiig’s character Lucy is an agent from the Anti-Villain League who teams up with Gru (the main character) and eventually falls in love with him. Wiig shares many personality traits as well as physical traits with her character Lucy and both are nice, happy and offbeat ladies who have won many hearts.
4. Danny DeVito as Philoctetes in Hercules
Half man, half goat, Philoctetes (Phil for short) was a satyr who trained heroes, including Hercules, in ancient Greek mythology. In the animated Disney classic, Hercules, this short, hairy, rotund creature was played by an equally short and rotund actor Danny DeVito.
The supervising animator, Eric Goldberg, said he drew inspiration from Grumpy (Snow White) and Bacchus (Fantasia) when creating the character of Phil. Danny DeVito initially declined the audition when asked. He signed on only after being asked a second time, and created the life force behind this character with a big heart and a short temper. In Hercules, Phil hates being ignored, can easily be ticked off and is a little flirtatious. Not very different from his voice actor!
3. Angelina Jolie as Lola in Shark Tale
Alright, this entry is a bit of a cheat since all of the animated characters in the 2004 DreamWorks movie Shark Tale, look like their voice actors. The film boasted famous voices such as Will Smith, Bruce Willis, Jack Black, Rene Zellweger, Robert De Niro and Angelina Jolie. Most of these characters could have their own entry on this list. The big name cast paid off as the film opened at number one with $47.6 million. Shark Tale remained at number one for the second and third week after opening, and was nominated for Best Animated Feature.
Lola is a beautiful lionfish who seduces the main character Oscar (voiced by Will Smith). The animators purposely made the fish resemble Jolie, both physically and in personality. Lola has big lips, long flowing hair, a bombshell body and a smouldering look. She is fierce and strong, like Jolie as well, a true femme fatale.
2. Irene Bedard as Pocahontas in Pocahontas
Irene Bedard may not be as well known as some of the other actors on this list but her character Pocahontas certainly is. A classic Disney film, Pocahontas was released in 1995 and saw huge success. The character of Pocahontas and the movie itself was based on Native American folklore that surrounds the real person of Pocahontas.
Bedard herself, like Pocahontas, is of Native American heritage, more specifically of Inupiat and Inuit ancestry. She was born in Alaska and still resides there. Like her character in the movie, Bedard is a strong beautiful woman, and was even chosen in 1995 as People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People”.
1. Robin Williams as Genie in Aladdin
Released in 1992, Disney’s Aladdin was one of the first films that boasted seasoned actors. Apart from Robin Williams, the cast also included Gilbert Gottfried and Frank Welker. Williams was unsure at first of taking the role, but after the animators showed him a few clips of Genie animated to fit some of Williams’ stand up, he was sold. Many attribute the movie’s huge success partly to Williams’ performance.
Genie’s skin may be blue, but his personality most definitely wasn’t. The magical element of being a genie was captured by Williams’ high energy and constant quips. Much of Genie’s dialogue was improvised by Williams and to everyone’s surprise much of it was kept by Disney and shown in the movie. Williams’ sweet nature was also reflected in the Genie, who is ultimately a servant to Aladdin. Even their facial features are similar; the round cheekbones, square jaws and huge smiles. Genie and Robin Williams were made inseparable in our minds by Aladdin.
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