An element of animation that has always held my interest is voice acting. I remember from a young age reading out loud scripts of my favourite movies trying to do my best impression of whichever character’s line I was reading. I now believe that I have a certain skill which would be very favourable if I were to put it on job applications, I’m pretty confident in saying that whenever I watch most cartoons, I am able to pick out voice actors just by listening. This is probably something a lot of people can do but it makes me feel special!
I’ve been listening to a lot of the Nickelodeon Animation Podcast recently who often hold interviews with show creators and voice actors and this inspired me to make a list of some of my favourite voice actors/actresses performances. I’m going to stick to voice actors who are mainly known for their cartoon work but the occasional movie/video game voice actor may find it’s way in.
In no particular order…
Chances are – like most of the entries on this list – you’ve heard Tom Kenny’s voice at least once in your life, you probably don’t even realise it’s him! Tom Kenny’s most notable characters include: Spongebob of Spongebob Square Pants, Ice King of Adventure Time, The Mayor of Townsville/The Narrator of The Powerpuff Girls and literally so many more. I mean his IMDb page literally has 409 credits and I don’t think he has any plans to stop voice acting anytime soon!
My favourite Tom Kenny performances come in the form of: Eduardo of Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends, Dog of Catdog and of course, The Mayor of Townsville of The Powerpuff Girls. I am such a huge fan of Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends and The Powerpuff Girls, as mentioned before in previous posts I actually have a large tattoo on my thigh of the Foster’s house! I also have plans to get The Powerpuff Girls’ house tattooed in the same fashion on my other thigh! Both of these shows were my childhood favourites and I have Tom Kenny to thank for some of the most recognisable voices of my childhood!
Grey Delisle (sometimes credited as Grey Griffin) is I think, my favourite voice actor (don’t tell the others!) I’ve had a couple of interactions with her via twitter and she’s always as lovely as can be. She’s played a part in pretty much all of my favourite cartoons and is most notably known for her work as: Azula in Avatar The Last Airbender, Vicky of Fairly Odd Parents and as Mandy in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
It was difficult for me to narrow down my favourite of Grey’s performances to just 3 but I’m going to try. My favourites have to be; Frankie in Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends (I mentioned how much I love this show in the Tom Kenny segment of this post) Daphne in pretty much everything Scooby-Doo since 2001 and I wouldn’t dare leave out Azula of The Last Airbender or else I “will never rise from the ashes of your shame and humiliation!” I’m a big fan of all of these shows and I’m going to be cheeky and put in a few honourable mentions as Grey actually has 466 credits to her name on IMDb, that’s just a few more than Tom Kenny! I also loved her as the Grandma in The Book Of Life, Setsu Oiwa of When Marnie Was There and Yumi of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi.
Kevin Michael Richardson
With 455 credits to his name, Kevin Michael Richardson is just above Tom Kenny but just below Grey Delisle in credits but seeing as he’s been part of 455 projects, you’ve most definitely heard his voice before. Kevin Michael Richardson is widely known for playing: Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012 series, Captain Gantu in Lilo & Stitch and Lester Krinklesac/Cleveland Brown Jr. in The Cleveland Show. I think it’s fair to say that if a character has a deep bellowing voice, it’s probably Kevin Michael Richardson behind it. I’ve just remembered that I’ve spotted Kevin in an episode of How I Met Your Mother once!
Now to narrow down my 3 favourite character’s that he’s voiced; I’m going to go for Captain Gantu of Lilo & Stitch (I’m a big fan of Lilo & Stitch and I think this is where I first heard his voice, from then on whenever I recognised his voice he’d be known as “the guy that voices Gantu” to me) Sheriff Blubs of Gravity Falls and Ian the Gator in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog!
Tara Strong is a total fan favourite, she’s voiced some of the most beloved characters in cartoon history! She’s probably mostly known as the voice of Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls, Timmy Turner in Fairly Odd Parents and Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Tara has a whopping 477 credits on IMDb making her the actor with the most credits on this list… so far!
My favourite Tara Strong performances start with of course, Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls, Dil Pickles of Rugrats/All Grown Up! and Terrence of Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends (I know, this should just be a list of my favourite Foster’s characters) there are also so, so many more that I don’t have time to mention here but head over to Tara’s IMDb page to find out if she’s voice any of your favourites!
Cree Summer is mostly known as the voice of Susie Carmichael in Rugrats/All Grown Up!, Numbuh 5 in Codename: Kids Next Door as well as her live action acting in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and A Different World. Cree only has 280 credits to her name on IMDb, which is still really impressive however around 180 credits behind other voice actors in this list.
My favourite Cree Summer performances include: Susie Carmichael of Rugrats, Princess Kida of Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Miranda Killgallen from As Told By Ginger (I thought Cree was amazing as bully; Miranda, I was actually afraid of her!). I can’t wait to see what projects Cree takes on in the future.
A fairly new favourite of mine, Alan Tudyk needs no introduction. He’s known for a lot of live action acting he’s done over the years including TV series; Firefly, movie; Serenity and now Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Focusing on Tudyk’s animated voice over performances however, here is what he’s most notable for: King Candy in Disney’s Wreck It Ralph, The Duke of Weselton of Disney’s Frozen and Alistair Krei of Disney’s Big Hero 6.
My favourite Alan Tudyk performances (although mostly already mentioned) have to be K2SO of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Ludo in Star vs. The Forces of Evil and King Candy of Wreck It Ralph. I’m fairly certain Alan Tudyk has been a part of every recent Disney movie from Frozen, Wreck it Ralph, Big Hero 6, Zootopia and Moana! here’s hoping he makes a return in the next Disney animated feature film!
I LOVE Kath Soucie’s range of voices, from her grainy boy voices to her mum voices and even her squeaky young girl voices. There has never been a time where I haven’t been able to distinguish her iconic voice! Kath is most notable for playing both Phil and Lil DeVille of Rugrats/All Grown Up! as well as their mother: Betty DeVille! She also played Dexter’s mum from Dexter’s Laboratory, Lola Bunny in Space Jam and Kanga from the Winnie The Pooh franchise since 2000.
My favourite Kath Soucie performances are pretty varied, My favourites are; Betty DeVille of Rugrats/All Grown Up! Cadpig of the 101 Dalmatians TV series and Collette / Danielle from the sequel to Disney’s Lady and The Tramp; Lady and the Tramp 2 – Scamp’s Adventure. It was actually really tough to narrow this down, I love all of Kath’s voices! I bet she’s voiced many of your childhood favourites too.
Another instantly recognisable voice; Tress MacNeille has been in EVERYTHING, well not literally everything but a lot of things you’d recognise. You may know Tress MacNeille from such things as; Dolph and Agnes Skinner (as well as many, many others) on The Simpsons, Disney’s Daisy Duck since 1999 and Arnold’s Grandma in Hey Arnold. In the nicest way possible, Tress has a great old lady voice!
My favourite Tress MacNeille performances go as follows; Charlotte Pickles from Rugrats, Disney’s Daisy Duck and Osono from Kiki’s Delivery Service! Similar to Kath Soucie, Tress has the ability to do a very comforting motherly voice which is demonstrated in all of those characters!
As big on camera as she is behind the mic, Mae Whitman is one of my favourite actresses. She’s mostly known for her roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as Roxy Ritcher, Katara in Avatar The Last Airbender and as Disney’s Tinkerbelle since 2008.
My favourite Mae Whitman voices include: Katara from The Last Airbender, Kayo Horikoshi from the Studio Ghibli film: The Wind Rises and (for my TMNT super fan sister) April O’Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the 2012 series. Side note: she also did a great job at voicing Yuffie the Final Fantasy character in Kingdom Hearts 2.
Much like how I said about Kevin Michael Richardson’s voice, If you hear a typical dad voice in a cartoon: it’s probably Jeff Bennett. Jeff Bennett is probably known for his roles as; Johnny Bravo in Johnny Bravo, Petrie from The Land Before Time and Dexter’s Dad in Dexter’s Laboratory.
My favourite voices of Jeff Bennett’s include: Johhny Bravo, Jake Long’s Father From Jake Long: American Dragon and Shiro Shinobi, the radio broadcaster from The Legend of Korra. His role as Shiro Shinobi managed to get me hyped for each episode as he narrated at the start of every episode. He also did a great job at voicing Tramp in Disney’s Lady and The Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure, he made once a wild and free dog now sound wise and fatherly.
Dee Bradley Baker
Is any voice acting list complete with the mention of Dee Bradley Baker? The man who can create the noise of any creature whether it be real, imaginary or extinct. He is most probably known for being pretty much all the animal voices in Avatar The Last Airbender including Appa and Momo, as well as Perry The Platypus in Phineas and Ferb and various characters in various Star Wars cartoons and video games. Dee Bradley Baker also has his own website to help others with getting into voice acting, which you can find here.
My favourite Dee Bradley Baker performances start with Appa and Momo from The Last Airbender (I know I’ve mentioned this show many times now, I just love it a lot), Waddles of Gravity Falls and Naga & Pabu in The Legend of Korra. If you go down his IMDb page it’s amazing how many different types of animals Dee Bradley Baker can replicate!
Jim Cummings – the Disney powerhouse – has voiced plenty of characters in plenty of Disney films. Such as: Aladdin, Winnie The Pooh, The Lion King, Tarzan, The Princess and the Frog, Hercules and more! He actually beats everyone on this list with 499 credits to his name on IMDb! He’s most notably known as the voice of Pete from many Mickey Mouse cartoons, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger and even Taz the Tasmanian Devil since around the 90s.
It’s really tough to pick 3 of my favourite Jim Cummings performances when I have 499 to choose from but, I’d say my favourites are: Fuzzy Lumpkins from The Powerpuff Girls, Pete who appears in various Mickey Mouse cartoons and Tantor from Disney’s Tarzan.
Another instantly recognisable voice in the voice over industry is the one and only John DiMaggio. Most people know him as the voice of Bender in Futurama, Jake the Dog from Adventure Time or Marcus Fenix from the Gears of War series. If you hear a manly, rough deep voice in a cartoon, have a check! It’s probably John DiMaggio!
It was fairly easy for me to choose my favourite John DiMaggio performances as I watched a lot of cartoons he was in when I was a kid and didn’t even realise! My favourites are; Fu Dog from Jake Long: American Dragon, Dr. Drakken from Kim Possible and Jerry Jumbeaux Jr. from Zootopia!
Jenny Slate who is fairly new to voice acting compared to the other people on this list is probably most well known as the voice of Bellewether from Zootopia, Gidget from The Secret Life of Pets as well as all of the live action projects that she’s been a part of.
Focusing solely on her voice acting projects, my favourite of Jenny’s voice over performances include; Ponyhead from Star vs The Forces of Evil (pony head is my favourite character, she’s so funny), Tammy from Bob’s Burgers and Bellewether in Zootopia. I recently saw the trailer for Despicable Me 3 and instantly recognised Jenny Slates voice in it!
I recognise Rob Paulson’s voice from so many of my childhood favourites. So many that I can’t pinpoint just one off the top of my head! Rob is most probably known for his work in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as Raphael in older seasons and Donatello in the 2012 series, Pinky in Pinky and The Brain and Yakko in Animaniacs.
My favourite Rob Paulson performances have to be: Donatello in the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, Experiment 625 (Reuben) in the Lilo & Stitch franchise and Mark Chang from Fairly Odd Parents.
There are so so so many more voice actors and actresses that I wanted to include in this list but it took me all afternoon to research and write just this one! I’ll probably end up doing a part 2 to this post if people enjoy reading this one.
If you’d like to look even more into the behind the scenes work of voice acting for cartoons then look into the documentary ‘I Know That Voice’ it features appearances from so many of the people on this list as well as so many that I wanted to include here.