The animated family adventure Epic features a whole slew of famous actors who have lent their voices to a massive cast of characters. From Amanda Seyfried as the young lead to Christoph Waltz, Colin Farrell and Beyoncé Knowles, almost all of the main characters are voiced by people whose faces you would definitely recognise.
It’s almost strange to think that there used to be a time when big budget animated features weren’t voiced by celebs. Disney’s Aladdin was one of the first incidences where a big name (in this case, Robin Williams) was at the forefront of a cartoon’s marketing push. Since then, every major animated movie has relied heavily on the familiar vocal tones of the world’s biggest stars.
To mark the rental release of Epic at blinkbox, we’ve picked 8 of the most interesting cartoon performances from famous folks.
1. Martin Scorsese in Shark Tale (2005)
Scorsese and Robert De Niro haven’t made a film together since 1995’s Casino, that is unless you count this Dreamworks animated film that saw them playing a couple of fish with mob connections. Even under the sea, the Italian-American community can’t get away from these stereotypes!
2. Vin Diesel as The Iron Giant (1999)
Before he became the face of the Fast and Furious franchise, Vin Diesel provided the voice of a lovable metallic behemoth in director Brad Bird’s debut feature. This warm and nostalgic film packs an unexpectedly poignant ending, which marks the one and only time a Vin Diesel character has made us well up in the cinema.
3. Fergie as Sally in Peanuts (1980s)
Now best known for going on ad nauseum about her lady humps, the singer and Black Eyed Peas member previously had a small career as a child voice-over artist. In amongst all the cough syrup ads and promos for toys, she voiced Charlie Brown’s sister Sally in a handful of made-for-TV Peanuts cartoons.
Who would’ve thunk that that the little blonde girl with a crush on the piano-playing kid would grow up into a sexy pop megastar?
4. Christian Bale in Pocahontas (1995)
In between being that kid from Empire of the Sun and becoming an American Psycho, Christian Bale was just one of the big screen voices drafted in for Disney’s 1995 feature Pocahontas. He lent his young vocal talents to play Thomas, a British settler and one of John Smith’s friends. Years later, he would play John Rolfe, the man who would marry Pocahontas in Terrence Malick’s The New World.
5. John Lithgow in Shrek (2001)
Sitcom nerds will remember him as Dick Solomon, the high commander of the aliens in Third Rock from the Sun. Fans of dark cable dramas will know him as the Trinity Killer from the fourth season of Dexter. But kids of all ages will surely recognise his voice as that of Lord Farquaard, the vertically-challenged bad guy in 2001’s Shrek.
6. Demi Moore in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
In adapting the classic novel by Victor Hugo, Disney may have added in a number of humorous gargoyles to lighten the tone but they certainly didn’t skimp on the deeply catholic themes.
Much of the film’s plot concerns Judge Frollo, a pious man who is waging a war against gypsies whilst simultaneously lusting after Esmerelda: a gypsy dancer (voiced by Demi Moore). In one of the films songs entitle Hellfire, Frollo sings:
“Protect me, Maria/ Don’t let this siren cast her spell/ Don’t let her fire sear my flesh and bone/ Destroy Esmeralda/ And let her taste the fires of hell/Or else let her be mine and mine alone.”
This might be the first and last time a Disney cartoon would deal with the Madonna-whore complex in such a literal fashion.
7. Burt Reynolds in All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
Gator McClusky, Paul Crewe, The Bandit, Jack Horner: these are but a few of the classic characters played by Burt Reynolds. But no Reynolds completist would be happy without All Dogs Go to Heaven in their collection. Big Burt provides the voice of Charlie, a wise-guy pooch who escapes heaven so that he can return to Earth and run a gambling scam. With the help of an orphan girl who can speak to the animals, he starts making fat stacks before coming to terms with his selfish nature.
8. Orson Welles in The Transformers: The Movie
His career in film started at the age of 26 when he co-wrote, directed and starred in the greatest film of all time: Citizen Kane. Released 44 years later, the very last motion picture Orson Welles was involved with would not so so illustrious.
Grossly overweight, commonly drunk and unable to find meaningful work at the age of 70, Welles found himself providing the voice of ‘Unicron’ in a definite article-loving cartoon called The Transformers: The Movie.
For a career characterised by lost potential, could there be a grace note more appropriate than a final performance as a giant planet-eating robot?
Epic is now available to rent at blinkbox