It’s become incredibly fashionable to cast bigger and bigger celebrities in animated movies nowadays, but there are few performers that are able to convincingly disappear into the skin of their animated counterparts. The following five actors have done exactly that, however:
There are few actors who are as closely associated to their animated doppelgangers as Tom Hanks is to Woody the cowboy, with Hanks’ absolutely note-perfect take on the character as entertaining and compelling as anything he’s done within the live-action realm. From the moment he delivers his first line in 1995’s Toy Story, Tom Hanks owns the role of Woody to an extent that none of his co-stars is able to match (which is in itself no small feat, given just how terrific Tim Allen, Don Rickles, and the rest of the Toy Story gang are in their respective roles).
Memorable Moment: Four words: “You! Are! A! Toy!”
2. Jeremy Irons ('The Lion King')
Jeremy Irons has played a lot of villains over the course of his career – Simon Gruber in Die Hard With a Vengeance, Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune, etc – but none have had the lasting impact as Scar from The Lion King. Irons’ deliciously smarmy voice work amplifies what is already an impressively vicious character, and has cemented Scar’s place as the most evil figure to ever appear within an animated Disney endeavor.
Memorable Moment: Scar is responsible for plenty of heinous acts throughout The Lion King’s running time, but none are quite as reprehensible as his decision to callously murder his own brother.
3. Robin Williams ('Aladdin')
It’s rather ironic to note that the only movie to truly capture Robin Williams’ notoriously hyperactive persona is an animated one, as Aladdin has been jam-packed with exactly the sort of freewheeling, hilariously over-the-top monologues that have come to define his frantic stage presence. Williams’ consistently entertaining work as the Genie ultimately overshadows everything else within the movie, and it’s to Williams’ credit that he even manages to transform his character into a surprisingly sympathetic figure that the viewer can’t help but root for.
Memorable Moment: It’s impossible to select any single moment as a highlight, as Williams makes the most of his limited screen time by cranking his performance up to 11 from start to finish.
4. Eddie Murphy ('Shrek')
Prior to his appearance as Donkey in the first Shrek outing, Eddie Murphy’s career was essentially running on fumes – as he had been cranking out such live-action disappointments as 1998’s Holy Man and 1999’s Life. Donkey’s fast-talking, consistently off-the-wall personality seemed to have been tailor-made for the comedian, with Murphy’s scene-stealing work ensuring that Shrek (Mike Myers) often found himself playing second-fiddle to his own sidekick.
Memorable Moment: After listening to Shrek (Mike Myers) explain that ogres, like onions, possess many different layers, Donkey launches a completely irrelevant (yet thoroughly hilarious) speech into the pleasures of a good parfait.
5. Ray Winstone ('Beowulf')
Ray Winstone’s work in Beowulf marked a major turning point for the motion-capture genre, as the actor effortlessly managed to leave behind his well-established persona to create a unique and three-dimensional character – which is a feat that such A-listers like Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie have been unable to convincingly pull off. Winstone transforms Beowulf into a fearsome figure that commands the respect and awe of everyone around him, which ensures that the character ultimately becomes one of the most memorable animated heroes in recent memory.
Memorable Moment: After an intimidating sea monster swallows him, Beowulf bursts out of the creature’s eye while screaming his own name. It’s a move that pretty much defines the word “badass.”