We instantly recognize them from television shows and movies. After all, they are actors – they work hard to be recognized and admired. What about when they are heard but NOT seen? Many celebrities do voice overs for advertisements or they may narrate films, but some will even use their voices for cartoon characters.
Most of us know that Kelsey Grammer has been the voice of Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons on and off for years. We also know that some famous actors have taken on cartoon roles in big movies – think Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman in Happy Feet. However, we may not have recognized some of very famous voices as the stars did not appear with their true gestures, and some of them have flown under the radar.
One of the biggest stars in the world, Robert Downey, Jr., has been a cartoon voice. He’s the voice behind Patrick Pewterschmidt on the animated hit Family guy. His character is Lois’s totally insane brother. He doesn’t really sound like Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes, so who knew?
Some celebrities were cartoon voices before they made it big. For example, Fergie (Stacy Ferguson) from the Black-Eyed Peas was a child star on the Disney Channel. In addition, she was the voice of Sally, Charlie Brown’s little sister in the animated Peanuts specials from the 80s. Check out Snoopy’s Getting Married, and you’ll hear Fergie before she got the party started.
One of the best animated shows was the Ted Turner-produced Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The cast is a “Who’s Who” of Hollywood greats. Included are Meg Ryan, who played the evil Dr. Blight, and Jeff Golblum, who played Verminous Skumm. Other cast members included LeVar Burton, who played Kwame, from Ghana, Sting, who played the character Zarm, and Martin Sheen, who played Sly Sludge. There were also characters voiced by other a-listers.
Another animated show that employed big names as characters was Nickelodeon’s The Wild Thornberrys. Flea, the crazy jumping guitar player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, played Donnie Thornberry. We all love to hate Tim Curry’s characters in movies and on TV shows. He was the voice behind numerous characters on this show. Curry was the voice for Nigel Thornberry, Colonel Radcliffe Thornberry, a zebra, a sea lion, marmosets, and evil poachers. What a great talent!
If you remember Family Matters, you undoubtedly remember Steve Urkel, the character played by Jaleel White. White was also the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog for the series of the same name. He was very busy 16-year-old!
One of the fasted rising stars today is Michael Cera. You see him in the movies now, but before he was a big-screen star, he was on the TV show Arrested Development. He was also the voice behind the animated character Brother Bear on The Berenstein Bears on PBS. Who would have thought the star of Juno and Superbad was once a cuddly bear?
Other stars that have become famous over the past few years have also had a background in cartoon character voices. Scarlett Johansson was Mindy in the Sponge Bob Squarepants Movie, and Alec Baldwin was the Bad Guy Dennis. Funny lady Melissa McCarthy was DNAmy on Kimpossible.
And, last but not least, George Clooney was the voice behind The Doctor on Southpark!