It's not entirely shocking that a lot of actors and performers also lend their voices to cartoons as voice performers, but what is surprising is how you don't always hear about it. Some of these actors took on cartoon roles before they got famous for other work which is why you might not have heard about it, while others just slipped it in while they were working on other acting projects. Not to mention, you can't always recognize their voices. Here are 15 celebs who have also voiced cartoon characters.
Jaleel White is pretty much exclusively known for playing the wacky Steve Urkel on Family Matters. But he was also the voice of the cartoon Sonic the Hedgehog at the same time. He was around 16 when he started working for the show and he also picked it back up in 1999 for the animated series Sonic Underground. Sonic the Hedgehog was originally a video game owned by Sony. Initially, the character was created as a rabbit and came about at a time when the intention was to compete with Nintendo's extremely popular Super Mario Brothers. The rabbit idea was nixed when it was deemed too complicated, so he was turned into a "rolling" animal to make the design more like a ball rolling through tubes. Simplicity. The show aired in 1993 and was only on for a little over a year.
Fergie, or Stacy Ferguson as her parents called her, is best known for being the leading lady of the Black Eyed Peas. And then she was later known for snagging hottie Josh Duhamel and having his son whom they named Axl. She's also known for being a reformed addict. But before all of that, she was a child performer on shows like the Disney Channel's Kids Incorporated. She seems to be a pretty hard worker because as a child she also voiced the character of Sally from Charlie Brown for some 1980's Peanuts specials. They were It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown; Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown; and The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. Sally is Charlie Brown's little sister and has been played by three other women since her introduction in 1959. Wonder if she'll put on those Peanuts films for her own little one.
You know James Avery as Uncle Philip Banks on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but before he landed that awesome role he used his voice to play Shredder on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. Awesome. He kept with the gig from 1987 to 1993, as well playing the same role in the TMNT made-for-TV movie that was released in 1991. The cartoon series started as a five-part miniseries but ended up moving to Saturday mornings thanks to syndication, and later moving to airing on weekdays as well. TMNT is still popular, and there have been two films released in the past couple years. There were multiple different runs of the show on TV, and they made the jump to live-action feature film in 1990. There has even been a Ninja Turtles cereal, which came with a pouch of pizza-flavored corn snacks called Pizza Crunchabungas.
Vin Diesel (whose real name is Mark Sinclair) is best known for his roles in the Fast and the Furious franchise. He was also a producer for the films. But he's also voiced the role of the Iron Giant back at the beginning of his career in the 1990's. However if you didn't recognize his voice in the film that's understandable since his character of the robot only had a few lines. He also plays the alien Groot in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Vin has also written, directed, and produced a short film as well as a feature length film. He started his acting career in a pretty weird way. As a kid, he and some friends broke into a theater and got caught, but the director offered them roles in an upcoming play that they could take instead of him calling the police. Pretty good deal. He took the offer and then studied creative writing in college.
Flea (real name Michael Peter Balzary) is best known as the bassist in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, the high-energy musician also acts from time to time. For starters, he has had supporting roles in films like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, My Own Private Idaho, and Back To The Future Parts II and III. As far as cartoons go, he lent his voice to the character of Donnie Thornberry on Nickelodeon's The Wild Thornberrys, and the TV show's subsequent films called The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin of Donnie, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, and Rugrats Go Wild. The last is a cross-over between Nickelodeon’s Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys. That does sound pretty wild.
J.K. Simmons voices the yellow M&M in commercials as well as the following roles: Cave Johnson in the 2011 video game Portal 2, Lenny Turtletaub in BoJack Horseman, The Warden in Megamind, Kai in Kung Fu Panda 3, Stanford Pines in Gravity Falls, Tenzin in The Legend of Korra, and Mayor Lionheart in Zootopia. Of course, he's definitely best known for his normal acting roles, which are pretty awesome and include Dr. Emil Skoda on Law & Order (and other Law & Order franchise series), Vernon Schillinger HBO's prison-drama Oz, and Assistant Police Chief Will Pope on The Closer. He also plays J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy and crossed over to a whole new audience when he starred in Whiplash. He got 30 accolades for that one, which included an Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor. He's doing okay.
The late Brittany Murphy definitely found fame with her 1995 role as Tai on Clueless. Later in the 2000s, she landed 8 Mile, which got her critical recognition. But Brittany also voiced the role of Hank and Peggy Hill’s niece Luann on King of the Hill. Brittany has started her acting and performance training at the age of four and her mom moved with her to L.A. for high school so that she could pursue her career. Brittany passed away unexpectedly in 2009 at the age of 32 over what was ruled pneumonia and anemia. At first, the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office called her death an accidental drug overdose, but then her widower Simon died from what seemed to be the same thing six months later and they assumed it must have actually been toxic mold. However, that theory was also dismissed so it's a bit of mystery. She is definitely missed.
George Clooney provided the voice for the doctor on The South Park movie, as well as the bark for Sparky in an episode of the show's first season. The episode called "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" was controversial in 1997 when it aired thanks to the way it addressed homosexuality. In the episode, Stan's dog Sparky is found to be gay when he gets frisky with another male dog. Stan tried to change him, he runs away and ends up at Big Gay Al's Big Gay Animal Sanctuary. Ultimately Stan learns to accept him for who he is and spread the word that other people should do the same. The episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program and a GLAAD Award, and the show's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone considered it one of their most successful episodes of the first season.
Michael Cera was the voice of Brother Bear on the Berenstain Bears back in 2002. He started out as a child actor and his first role with lines was in a commercial where he got to poke the Pillsbury Dough Boy. In 2002, he also provided the voice for Josh Spitz in the cartoon Braceface. By the way, there has been some strange talk on the internet about the Berenstain Bears, or as some of you might remember them... the Berenstein Bears. Note the slightly differently spelling. An astronomically huge amount of people remember the name being spelled Berenstein, but there is no record to show that this was ever the case. One blogger goes so far as to suggest that the discrepancy is proof of an alternate universe. Whoa.
Michael J. Fox voiced Stuart Little in the film of the same title. The film is loosely based on the books of the same title and is actually a mixture of CGI and animation. The film got nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and was popular enough that it got a sequel as well as a follow-up animated series that didn't end up lasting very long. In the film, Stuart gets adopted by a new family but the brother George isn't thrilled to have a mouse for a brother, and the family cat Snowball doesn't like having a mouse as a "master." The original novel by E.B. White dates back to 1947. He explained the idea as follows: "Many years ago I went to bed one night in a railway sleeping car, and during the night I dreamt about a tiny boy who acted rather like a mouse. That's how the story of Stuart Little got started."
Mel Gibson actually voiced John Smith in the Disney animated film Pocahontas. Yup, really. You probably had no idea, right? Us either. The world premiere of the film was actually the biggest at the time when it was held in Central Park with four giant film screens and having 100,000 people in attendance. Mel even sang for his character, which was unique since many of the characters had two different vocal artists to get the job done. Initially, John Candy was going to voice a character that was a turkey named Redfeather, but when he passed away they decided to get rid of the character altogether and also remove the talking animal aspect in general. The project was so highly anticipated that at the time some of the people working on The Lion King as animators tried to switch over to what they thought was the bigger project.
Frank Zappa voiced the pope in Ren and Stimpy, which ended up being the last time he would play a fictional character ever. John Kricfalusi explained how this came to be and said they were basically huge fans of each other so thankfully it all worked out.
Alec Baldwin took on the role of the bad guy Dennis for The SpongeBob Movie. Dennis is a cold-blooded hitman who was hired by Sheldon J. Plankton to kill SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star. It was never specified what kind of fish Dennis was, but he could breathe above water as well as under. The idea for the SpongeBob series actually came from an actual biologist. Stephen Hillenburg has a relevant degree and used to teach Marine Biology at the Orange County Marine Institute. He also happened to draw and made a comic book for the institute which featured an early version of SpongeBob. He later worked as the creative director on Nickelodeon's Rocko's Modern Life, and the animators he worked with saw the potential in his comics.
Mila Kunis is best known for her role on That 70's Show, but she's had a successful acting career ever since. She also, by the way, grew up and married her co-star from that show Ashton Kutcher, with whom she shared her first real life kiss. How cute is that? Crazy cute. Mila also does the voice of Meg Griffin on Family Guy. Lacey Chabert initially was the voice but was uncredited, but then she got busy with starring on Party of Five at the same time she was going to school. Mila auditioned and after being called back a few times with different vocal distinctions being asked for, she landed the role for the second season, at which point Meg got a slight character rewrite. Seth MacFarlane has said that Mila is "almost more right for the character."
Yup, Johnny Cash voiced the space coyote that appeared in the Simpsons. It wasn't a major role and was only for a single episode, but that's a pretty good cameo as far as stars go. The producers of the show later said that having Johnny on was one of the greatest coups they had ever pulled off. In the 1997 episode entitled "The Mysterious Voyage of Homer", Homer eats some insanity peppers at a chili pepper festival and goes on a hallucinatory journey. Cash as the coyote comes down from the sky into the desert and acts as his spirit guide, urging Homer to find his soulmate. Since, of course, he is already married to Marge, he starts to question his relationship. He also ends up causing a shipwreck in the process. But by the end of the episode, everything is back to normal as it should be and always is.