Welcome back to my list of the 25 best Disney animated film voice artists. During this second special edition of this series, we celebrate eight more actors and actresses who provided memorable roles to some of our favorite Disney characters.
Be sure to check out the first part if you missed it, and then continue below to read part two of the 25 Best Disney Animated Film Voice Artists.
MICHAEL J. FOX
We can all appreciate Michael J. Fox’s talent in film (Back to the Future) and television (Family Ties, Spin City), but he does not receive as much credit for his vocal work. For Disney, he voiced Chance in the live-action Homeward Bound movies. This list, though, recognizes animated voice roles. The quite overlooked Atlantis: The Lost Empire gave Fox the opportunity to embody Milo Thatch, a nerdy linguist whose passion guides the exploration to the vanished civilization. Fox conveys both Milo’s zaniness and drive with such quality delivery in every line.
“Now, some of you may ask, why Atlantis? It’s just a myth, isn’t it? Pure fantasy? Well, that is where you’d be wrong.” – Milo Thatch, as voiced by Michael J. Fox
With a name like Vanellope von Schweetz, Wreck-It Ralph‘s silly sidekick would be an entirely different character without comedienne Sarah Silverman at the microphone. The sardonic and raunchy powerhouse may have toned down the crudeness of humor in voicing a Disney character, but that did not stop Silverman from demonstrating her sharp wit. At times whiny, but more often than not simply pushing Ralph’s buttons, Vanellope allows him to show his kindness and patience. Silverman does an exemplary job in not voicing an irritating sidekick, but rather making this aspiring racer one of the film’s sweetest and most sincere elements.
Sure, Gaston and Jafar are pretty cruel villains. But only Scar from The Lion King murders his own brother. Jeremy Irons, a theatrical force of nature, was perfectly cast as this despicable lion, for Irons’ Shakespearean voice translates to the tone of the tragedy. After all, Hamlet inspired the film’s storyline. Irons uses his voice in a menacing manner that causes our hair to tingle. What a riveting performance by Irons that possesses powerful expression, thanks to animator Andreas Deja’s wonderfully chilling work.
BETTY LOU GERSON
What if I told you the narrator in 1950’s Cinderella also voiced the studio’s crazed and dog-obsessed 101 Dalmatians villain Cruella de Vil? Betty Lou Gerson is responsible for influencing de Vil’s manic style as her voice in 101 Dalmatians. The devilish diva may be glamorous, but deeply troubled. Had it not been for Gerson’s affected performance, the 1961 animated film may not have been the same box office success. Cruella de Vil is accountable for the movie’s uniqueness, as is Betty Lou Gerson.
Out there – at least out of many individuals’ frames of reference regarding “the best” Disney animated films – is a personal favorite that never garnered props. 1996’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame represents a revelation, a brazen and surprising movie that likely would not be made today due to its truly dark subject matter. But some brightness emerges from the gloom. Tom Hulce’s deftness in voicing the sheltered bell-ringing guy shimmers throughout the feature. Not only does he provide Quasimodo’s speaking voice, but he also sings beautifully in the movie’s best song: “Out There.”
Disney enlists Broadway talent for many of its musically oriented productions. For Tangled, casting Donna Murphy as the selfish and sassy Mother Gothel was such a coup. Mother Gothel’s melodramatic flair needed an actress to capture her ups and downs. Murphy released herself into the role, singing the showstopper “Mother Knows Best” and expressing the lines so effusively. If Tangled becomes an actual Broadway show, there’s no question who should play Gothel. Like how Jonathan Freeman has played Aladdin‘s Jafar in both film and on stage, Murphy could accomplish the same with much critical acclaim.
Almost every day is a very merry unbirthday with this voice artist in mind. Ed Wynn’s trademark may have been his vocal instrument that he manipulated in such an exquisite way that could bring joy and happiness. Certainly, portraying Mad Hatter in 1951’s Alice in Wonderland is the role that introduced him to children and kids at heart following many decades of success in vaudeville. He would continue to play eccentrics in movies, many of them Disney productions during the 1960s. Mad Hatter may have been totally crazy, but the only element crazy about Ed Wynn was his remarkably crazy talent. He was posthumously awarded with a Disney Legend award at the D23 Expo in 2013, found in the below by Allears.net.
DAVID OGDEN STIERS
A man of many voices, David Ogden Stiers may very well be the ’90s/2000s-era equivalent of Sterling Holloway. The television star is known to many moviegoers as the voices of Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, both Wiggins and Governor Ratcliffe in Pocahontas, the Archdeacon in Hunchback and Jumba in Lilo & Stitch. The deeply voiced star always manages to spin his characters to fit each unique role. Stiers is one of Disney’s lucky voice-acting charms.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the third and final special edition of this list of the 25 best Disney animated film voice artists!