James Brolin has made his animated film debut after a nearly 60-year-long career in film and television as the voice of the evil Emperor Zurg in Pixar’s latest film, Lightyear. While many animated films have featured celebrity voice acting in the past, it’s the kind of challenge that not every actor has been able to or even wanted to take on.
Other acting legends have also waited until later in life to portray an animated character, like Harrison Ford in The Secret Life of Pets 2, but there are still many stars of legendary status who still haven’t taken the leap to voice acting in theatrical animation. Some have come close in the past, while others have just never been presented the opportunity at all.
From dramas like American Beauty to even comic book films like Captain Marvel, Annette Bening’s seemingly effortless ability to disappear into a role has earned her four Oscar nominations and recognition as one of the all-time greats. Her remarkable talent and subtle acting style have certainly helped her shape quite a legendary resume.
Whether it be due to having never been presented with the opportunity or just having a legitimate lack of interest, Bening has made no attempt at voice acting before. With her level of versatility, however, if there is anyone who could pull off a voice-over performance without any prior experience, it would certainly be her.
In a career spanning almost three decades, Viola Davis has managed to maintain the quality of her work much more than most other actors. With a variety of roles in films ranging from Fences to The Suicide Squad, she brings both a powerful intensity and high charisma to each of her characters that can sometimes even outmatch the performances of her co-stars.
With such a resonant voice, some may find it hard to believe that Davis has hardly done anything in the realm of animation, with her only attempt being a guest appearance on the animated Disney series, Sophia the First. Given the passion of her past performances, any attempt at voice-acting for a larger production would be a welcome one for fans.
Robert Downey Jr.
With his talent for accents and sarcastic sense of humor, Robert Downey Jr. is much more than just a Marvel superhero. Having done the Iron Man video game and guest starring on Family Guy, he’s no stranger to voice acting either, but he still has yet to take it to next level with a full-length film.
Downey Jr. almost landed that opportunity when he was originally set to voice Mr. Peabody in Dreamworks’ Mr. Peabody and Sherman, but his schedule with Marvel Studios got in the way and was replaced with Ty Burrell. Given how he’s been considered one of the best Family Guy guest stars, he clearly has a talent for voice acting and it’s one that definitely deserves to be utilized again, as soon as possible.
With his iconic scowl and gruff demeanor, Clint Eastwood has built a true legacy as one of Hollywood’s most revered tough guys. Over the last 60 years, the living film legend has racked up four Oscars and over 80 film credits, but zero voice acting experience.
Eastwood has shifted his main focus from acting to directing in the later years of his career, and given the work he’s done over the last decade, he doesn’t seem too interested in acting in films in which he has no creative input. A role in an animated film looks highly unlikely for him at this point, but the idea itself is certainly an intriguing one.
Denzel Washington has been regarded as one of the most influential actors of the last 40 years and with his talents, he has practically redefined the art form of acting as a whole. With his undeniably powerful and demanding presence, it’s almost impossible for audiences to look away from any of his iconic and legendary performances.
He may have one of the most easily recognizable voices in all of Hollywood, but Washington has still yet to apply it to any animated film. While the famous physicality of his acting would be absent in animation, there’s no doubt that a thespian such as him would still give a phenomenal performance, even with just his voice alone.
From action films like the Mission: Impossible franchise to even musicals like Rock of Ages, Tom Cruise has proven himself to be a jack of all trades. It may be hard to believe that one of the highest-grossing film stars of all time has never participated in an animated film before, but somehow, Cruise has yet to add one to his resume.
The closest he ever came to doing so was in 2015, with the use of his archival audio as Ethan Hunt for the Lego version of the character in the video game, Lego Dimensions. Mainstream audiences may love watching the best of Tom Cruise’s stunts, but seeing him attempt something as different and unexpected as voicing an animated character would be something that would no doubt pique the interest of his fans.
Having won three Oscars for “Best Actor,” Daniel Day-Lewis has earned an undeniable legacy as one of the most respected and acclaimed performers in film history. As an intensely dedicated method actor, there have been times were Day-Lewis took method acting to the extreme, so he’s been rather selective with his career, having only done two films within the last decade.
Given the extreme methods behind his past performances, it may be a challenge for him to try to translate that same dedication to standing behind a microphone, but there’s no doubt that any attempt to do so would be an interesting one to see. Having been retired from acting since 2017 however, with his last film being the Paul Thomas Anderson drama Phantom Thread, the odds of him ever taking the opportunity to try his hand at voice acting are almost non-existent.
With the intensity of his performances in such films as Dog Day Afternoon and Scarface, Al Pacino is one actor who could very easily handle starring in an animated film. While he has yet to officially do so, that prospect nearly came to fruition when he was originally cast as the villain El Macho in Despicable Me 2.
During late post-production of the film, Pacino dropped out due to creative differences, despite his character having been fully voiced and animated, and the role was instead dubbed over by Benjamin Bratt. While it remains unknown if his audio will ever be leaked to the public or if he’ll ever get a similar opportunity again, it’s still fun to imagine how his performance would’ve turned out.
Among a group of actors who have never made a sequel, Jodie Foster can also be found among those who haven’t partaken in any animated films. Despite her past work under Disney and her fair share of family-friendly roles, most of her film career has only consisted of on-camera acting.
She did land a guest starring role on The Simpsons back in 2009, but Foster has yet to find herself doing anything remotely similar to it since then. Even though she’s become highly selective with her acting roles in recent years, it still may not be completely out of the realm of possibility for her to voice another animated character in the future, especially if the right script ever comes along.
Having worked under such directors as Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino and playing a wide range of characters, Leonardo DiCaprio has one of the most impressive filmographies in film history. It took him decades to finally win an Oscar, but it’s taken him even longer for him to make any attempt at voice acting.
DiCaprio came close a few times in the past: he was allegedly considered to voice Ashitaka in the English dub of Princess Mononoke and was a front-runner for Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians, but neither of them panned out. Whatever his next opportunity may be for an animated film and whenever it comes, the movie-going public can only hope that he manages to fully commit to it.
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