Whether starring in a major motion picture or a popular television series, actors can easily become recognized by their faces to become household names. When an actor lends their voice to an animated role, it becomes more difficult to imagine the face behind the cartoon unless they have a distinct, unique voice.
While animated movies like Frozen and Sing contain notable all-star casts, there are roles that have gone almost unnoticed by audiences. From smaller roles early in their careers to major characters, these actors have voiced some pretty familiar cartoon characters that are often forgotten by audiences.
10 Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson has many blockbuster movies under his belt including Lethal Weapon, Braveheartand The Patriot. However, many audiences don’t realize he had a starring role in Disney’s controversial Pocahontas. Here is the famous explorer Captain John Smith, he falls in love with Chief Powhatan’s daughter, after arriving with the English settlers to explore the New World. Gibson has stated he even provided vocals for John Smith’s singing (via Entertainment Weekly).
Though he was unable to resume his role in Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, his younger brother, Donal Gibson, would take over voicing John Smith. However, Mel Gibson would continue to flex his voice-acting muscles for chicken run as a rooster named Rocky who must teach the chickens how to fly.
9 Jaleel White
Jaleel White is best known for portraying the ultimate nerd, Steve Urkel, in the poorly aged series Family Matters. The image of White in suspenders, high waters, and thick glasses asking, “Did I do that?” is burned into the memories of an entire generation as he annoys the Winslow family for nine seasons.
However, White also went on to voice Sonic the Hedgehog in three separate series about the popular video game character: Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (1993), Sonic the Hedgehog (1993-1994), and Sonic Underground (1999) for a combined 131 episodes and 1 Christmas special. At the 2019 Toronto ComiCon, White revealed he was not offended he wasn’t asked to reprise his role for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie because choosing him for the animated series was a marketing move by ABC (via Youtube).
Before joining the Black Eyed Peas and releasing a string of hits, Fergie (real name Stacy Ferguson) was acting on the children’s series Kids, Incorporated from 1984 to 1989. Since then, she has voiced a handful of animated characters. In the ’80s, Fergie voiced Sally Brown, the sister of Charlie Brown in It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown, Snoopy’s Getting Married, Charlie Brownand The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show.
Fergie’s list of animated characters is just as long as her musical releases. In recent years, Fergie has voiced multiple characters on The Cleveland Show as well as characters on Rocket Power, Fanboy & Chum Chumand Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil. She has also had voice roles in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa as a hippo and as a rough collie in 2010’s Marmaduke.
7 Jeff Goldblum
Jeff Goldblum is most known for his role of Dr. Ian Malcolm in the Jurassic Park franchise. With other acting credits including independence day, The Flyand Earth Girls Are Easy, Goldblum has also ventured into a few animated roles. He voiced Verminous Skumm, the part-human part-rat villain in the first season of Captain Planet and the Planeteers in 1990.
Goldblum would later add his voice to the biblical animated movie The Prince of Egypt as Aaron, the biological brother of Moses. He has also had a string of guest appearances on shows like The Simpsons, Crank Yankersand What If…? while also lending his voice to the Jurassic Park and Independence Day video games. Jeff Goldblum has an identifiable, deep voice that lends itself well to voice roles.
6 Jessica Walter
Jessica Walter had a recognizable voice to audiences. She famously portrayed the matriarch of the Bluth family, Lucille Bluth, on Arrested Development. The sitcom saved by Netflix finds Lucille abusing alcohol, manipulating her children, and masterminding all of the Bluth Company’s illegal activities. Walter’s portrayal was perfect as she embodied the narcissistic mother with ease.
Though audiences will recognize her voice as Malory Archer in the animated series, Archershe also lent her voice to Dinosaurs from 1991-1994. As Fran Sinclair the Allosaurus, the stay-at-home mom felt unappreciated by her family. Though not actually animated, the series used puppetry to create the dinosaurs to entertain audiences of all ages and depict topical subjects including women’s rights, sexual harassment, and body image.
5 Michael Cera
Before his breakout roles in Arrested Development and Super bad, Michael Cera was lending his voice to several animated children’s series. In 2001, he voiced Josh Spitz on Brace face opposite Alicia Silverstone for 40 episodes as Sharon’s little brother who always plays the piano to the annoyance of his family. Cera later voiced Brother Bear on The Berenstain Bears series adapted from the classic children’s books for the first 2 seasons.
More recently, Cera has continued voice work and can be found in Sausage Party as Barry, a shorter-than-normal hotdog who just wants to be a normal hotdog and see what is beyond the grocery store’s doors. Audiences will also recognize his voice as Robin alongside his Arrested Development costar, Will Arnett, in The Lego Batman Movie.
4 Vin Diesel
Known for his starring role in the Fast and Furious franchise, Vin Diesel is a major action star. Diesel even appears in a video game voicing Milo Burik in the action-adventure video game Wheelman. With films like XXX, Pitch Blackand The Chronicles of Riddick under his belt, audiences will have forgotten that he voiced the titular character in the 1999 animated film The Iron Giant.
Though the metal giant is unable to speak at the beginning of the film, he gains his voice by the end. Producer Allison Abbate stated they “needed a deep, resonant and expressive voice” for the character so Diesel brought the heartwarming charming the giant needed. Vin Diesel loses that famous, deep voice to portray Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
Flea may be most known for being the bassist in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but he actually as a long list of acting credentials with everything from portraying Needles in two Back to the Future movies to Vect Nokru in two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Flea has a few smaller voice roles in AmericanDad! and Sherriff Callie’s Wild West.
The musician has famously lent his voice to The Wild Thornberries as Donnie, the feral child adopted by the adventuring family. The character was raised by an orangutan, so Flea never has any real dialogue other than constant gibberish and noises to communicate, making for some hilarious moments as the family tries to understand him.
2 Brittany Murphy
Brittany Murphy’s voice experience is small in comparison to her extensive list of romantic comedies and dramas like clueless and Girl, Interrupted. In 2006, she voiced Gloria in Happy Feet as the penguin Elijah Wood’s Mumble falls in love with. Her most notable voice work can be found in king of the hill as Luanne Platter, the niece of Peggy who moves into the den of the Hill home.
Murphy’s voice had a sweetness to it that added to Luanne’s naivety. She portrayed the absent-minded character with ease for 13 seasons before her unexpected death in 2009. With the king of the hill revival in the worksit remains to be seen if Luanne will be included and recast, mentioned by name only, or excluded entirely.
1 Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus became a household name for her portrayal of the titular character in Hannah Montana. Once the show was over, Cyrus pivoted almost entirely to music. Though she has had a few guest-starring roles on shows like black-mirror and Two and a Half Menaudiences have probably forgotten she was the voice of Penny in Disney’s bolt in 2008.
Though the animated movie isn’t often mentioned, bolt actually has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 89% on the Tomatometer. Adding Cyrus to the cast at the height of her Disney popularity was a great marketing move. Not only did her voice work with the character, but she also added another level of relatable emotion to young audiences with pets.
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