They're the unseen faces that make or break animation (and, more and more frequently, live action). And while the actors that appear in person may frequently be paparazzi-hounded celebrities, top voice talents generate their own fervent cults of personality. <p>Whether it's an actor perfectly matched with a role or a move sharply against type that opens new dimensions, vocal talents have earned more appreciation as the audience has grown in sophistication. <p>Here then, are ten <i>perfectly</i> cast voice actors. Not that there aren't dozens of others that touch greatness; these are just . . . well, perfect. <p>Click "<b>Start Here</b>" in the upper left, and see our 10 favorite, then click over to Facebook or Twitter and tell us yours! <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
Say what you will about Larry the Cable Guy. Even if you don't like his brand of comedy (and the guy typing this right now doesn't), then you have to admit that he was totally on the rusty nose as Mater in <b>Cars</b> and the just-opening <b>Cars 2</b>. As Mater, his mixture of innocence and bizarre non-sequiturs helped overcome an occasionally difficult premise by puncturing many inflated moments with humor.
We all know that Robin Williams on stage can run riot. Witness him doing stand-up or appearing on talk shows; he's almost impossible to contain. Fortunately, Disney had a lamp; they found a way to harness his craziness and super-charged <b>Aladdin</b> with it. Incorporating Williams' own riffing into the film, the Genie manages to come off as a scene-stealer, but in a strangely organic way.
Homer Simpson frequently gets listed among the greatest TV characters of all time. The credit there goes to two sources: Groening and the writers, and Dan Castellaneta. Over the last two decades, Castellaneta has sifted and refined the grains of Homer's ignorance, cranking out literally hundreds of pop culture catchphrases. The irony, of course, is that of all of Homer's epic pronouncements, none resonates more than, simply, D'oh!. <p>From the lips of anyone else, would it at all work? Lucky for us, we don't have to find out.
Sure, he was the voice of America's Top Forty and the face of American's Top Ten on TV. He voiced Robin on Super Friends and dozens of other Hanna-Barbera bit parts. <p>But when you get right down to it, Casey Kasem <b>was</b> Norville Shaggy Rogers in series after series and over a dozen direct to DVD films. As a DJ, Kasem had seen a lot of stoned, hipster doofuses, and he nailed Shaggy absolutely cold. Today, Kasem has mostly retired from voice-acting, though he still steps up to be Shaggy's dad on the current <b>Scooby-Doo: Mystery, Inc.</b> (live-action Shaggy Matthew Lillard now handles the voice as animated voice as well).
Theodore . . . Brother Theodore . . . Theodore Gottlieb . . . however you credit the comedian/actor/all-around bizarre performer, he had an undeniable singular presence and an amazing life story (Dachau, chess hustling arrests, and family friend Albert Einstein all figure in. Really). But to anyone that's ever seen the Rankin-Bass version of <b>The Hobbit</b>, Theodore IS Gollum. His original call of My precious! haunted many '70s nightmares, we're sure (not that we count ourselves in that number, right?). Theodore reprised the role in R&B's <b>Return of the King</b>, and you can certainly hear some hints of it in Andy Serkis's own classic rendition.
Let's just sum this one up with a few quotes. Autobots! Transform and roll out! Dinobots! Destroy Devastator! One shall stand, and one shall fall! Sam, it's bad form to make out with a girl on top of Bumblebee. Okay, we made up the last one, but you could <i>hear</i> him say it, couldn't you? Though Cullen has done a metric ton of other work in his life, he'll forever be associated with Optimus Prime. <p>And just to put a bow on it: remember when discussions were progressing on the first live-action film, and it was mentioned that maybe they'd get Tom Hanks to voice Prime? When fans revolt because they want YOU more than TOM HANKS . . . you're perfect.
Another one that demands almost no explanation. Puss in Boots is the swashbuckling stereotypical Latin lover. Banderas is Zorro and El Mariachi and, well, Banderas. We've always had the impression that Banderas never takes himself too seriously, and that comes across in waves in the Shrek films. <p>Honestly, how many supporting characters that were added in sequels to an original hit end up getting their own films? Can we name . . . any?
Although the Toy Story franchise abounds with pitch-perfect performances, the obvious stand-out is Tim Allen. Known at the time for his stand-up and Home Improvement, Allen immeasurably increased his coolness level by understanding and delivering on every corner of Buzz. So popular was Allen's reading that Buzz became the break-out character, spawning sold-out toys and his own spin-off TV series. You could probably argue that Buzz led to Allen's role in <b>Galaxy Quest</b>, so we will.
Without Vader, James Earl Jones has a profound and important career as an actor of stage, screen and television. Without Vader, Jones might still be the voice that says, THIS is CNN about 50 times a day. Without Vader, Jones would still be an amazing talent that overcame stuttering. With Vader, he's awesome. <p>Of course, he also has the unintended side effect of making Mufasa's pronouncement, Simba, I'm your father kind of hilarious. Nevertheless, Jones turned Darth Vader from an overtall British man into the scariest bastard in the universe. That's perfection.
This really exists without explanation, but we're gonna try. Facts? Conroy has been voicing Batman in one form or another since 1992. He's voiced Batman in six video games, seven movies, and, by our count, 261 episodes of Timmverse television (spread between the iterations of Batman, Batman Beyond and Justice League, not to mention guest-spots in Superman, Static Shock and The Zeta Project). <p>Let's face it: Conroy is a voice-acting icon. And if the DCAU films and Warner Bros Games have their way, he's probably not done with the role yet. This, friends, is perfect casting.