Since The Lion King hit the Box this week, I’ve been thinking about all of the great voice performances in the original animated film as well as the live-action update. I’ve also been thinking about how happy I was that James Earl Jones voiced Mufasa in both versions. Between the double Mufasas and Darth Vader, it’s clear that Jones has won the greatest voice actor of all time award.
Here are 10 other stars who have made their mark through voice acting.
Robin Williams as The Genie, Aladdin (1992) – No disrespect to Will Smith, but there will only ever be one (ever impressive, long contained, often imitated, but never duplicated) genie of the lamp to me.
Tony Hale as Forky, Toy Story 4 – Hale’s other persona as the nervous and neurotic Buster Bluth from Arrested Development made him a natural fit for the voice of this perpetually stressed-out spork.
Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner as Pumba and Timon, The Lion King (2019) – While I still carry a torch for the original animated version, there’s no denying that director Jon Favreau put together a dream voice cast, from Donald Glover and Beyoncé as Simba and Nala, to Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard and John Oliver as Scar, Sarabi and Zazu, among other big names. But Rogen and Eichner took it to the next level and WERE their characters.
Bill Murray as Baloo, The Jungle Book (2016) – I remember being really surprised when I heard that Murray had agreed to star in this mostly CGI version of the animated 1967 Disney classic. But I was sold on his performance from the second Baloo came on screen. And he even sang “The Bare Necessities!” I didn’t think I could love this guy any more.
Chris Pratt as Emmet and Will Arnett as Batman in The Lego Movie franchise, plus Tiffany Haddish as Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – In yet another animated franchise where the entire voice cast is excellent, these three stood out to me because I simply cannot imagine their characters voiced by anyone else. The happy-go-lucky-ness of Emmet, the gruff and tough growl of Batman, and the lyrical musings of the Queen were all amazing.
Eddie Murphy as Donkey, the Shrek franchise – Did you know Shrek was based on a children’s book? Neither did I! This 2001 smash surprised everyone with its critical acclaim (including the Oscar for Best Animated Feature) and its humor that appealed to adults while also still being fun for kids. Yet I don’t think it would’ve been nearly successful if Murphy hadn’t been cast as Donkey — to me, he makes the entire film.
George Clooney as Mr. Fox, Fantastic Mr. Fox– And finally we have an A-list star playing a master thief in Wes Anderson’s stop-motion adaptation of the 1970 Roald Dahl classic children’s novel. Clooney was perfect for the confident and clever hero!
What actor or actress comes to mind when you think of a great voice performance?