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Cartoon Culture

13 Animation Directors You Might Not Have Known Also Voiced Characters

Whether it be for lack of budget or a desire to take center stage, TV series creators lending their own voices to their animated television shows has been fairly commonplace – Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill), John Kricfalusi (Ren and Stimpy), Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park) immediately spring to mind. However, in recent years, more and more feature directors have started getting in on the trend. From throwaway one-liners to continuous roles throughout entire franchises, here is a list of some animation directors and the characters they brought to life in their own films.

1. Eric Goldberg

As the animation director for Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), Goldberg not only supervised the animation of the WB’s classic characters but he voiced some of them as well. Goldberg recorded the dialogue of Marvin the Martian, Tweety Bird and Speedy Gonzalez.

2. Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud

The distinctive sputters, spurts and high-speed mutterings of The Minions in Despicable Me (2010) and Despicable Me 2 (2013) belong to the films’ co-directors Pierre Coffin (above left) and Chris Renaud. And as the character’s popularity grows, so does their vocal commitment, as the two will reprise their roles in next year’s prequel Minions.

3. Ralph Bakshi

In his debut film Fritz the Cat (1972), director Ralph Bakshi voiced one of the boorish antagonist Pig Cops, who is also referred to as “Ralph” multiple times in his scenes.

4. Brad Bird

Agnes Gooch, Edith Head, Patricia Highsmith, Linda Hunt – when it comes to figuring out who inspired the character of Edna Mode, people love to toss out many names, but in the end, the cutthroat designer of superhero fashion was brought to life by The Incredibles (2004) director Brad Bird.

5. Rich Moore

Rich Moore, director of Wreck-It Ralph (2012) provided the dreary monotone of acidic jawbreaker Sour Bill, the henchman to the bombastic King Candy.

6. Richard Williams

Even to this day, the toon celebrity cameos in Who Framed Roger Rabbit(1988) remain some of the best nods to the golden age of cartoons, especially that of Droopy Dog, who gets his opportunity to best Eddie Valiant with some traditional ‘toon high-jinks as a tricky elevator operator, sluggishly voiced by the film’s animation director Richard Williams.

7. Chris Wedge

What began as the high-strung snivels and snarls of Scrat in Ice Age (2002) has become a second career for director Chris Wedge who has gone on to vocally personify the prehistoric rodent in 3 sequels, 6 short films, 2 video games and in a walk-on role in an episode of Family Guy.

8. Chris Miller

Royal messengers, tower guards, army commanders, friars and penguins, story artist Chris Miller has lent his voice-over skills to numerous animated films, most notably his returning roles as Geppetto and The Magic Mirror in the Shrek franchise, including Shrek the Third (2007), which he co-directed.

9. Mark Dindal

The often ignored and underrated animated film Cats Don’t Dance (1997) features some beautiful hand-drawn work and stellar vocal performances, including that of director Mark Dindal as the tight-lipped bodyguard/butler Max.

10. Joe Ranft

Pixar story artist, the late Joe Ranft, brought a handful of memorable animated characters to life, including Heimlich (A Bug’s Life), Wheezy the Penguin (Toy Story 2) and Jacques the Cleaner Shrimp (Finding Nemo). But it was in Cars (2006), which he co-directed, that he voiced three characters including the semi-truck Jerry Recycled Batteries.

11. Chris Sanders

In Lilo & Stitch (2002) co-director Chris Sanders takes on the nuanced role of Alien Experiment 626, aka “Stitch,” who escapes from an intergalactic prison only to find himself trapped on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

12. Nathan Greno and Byron Howard

Nathan Greno (above right) and Byron Howard not only paired up as co-directors of Tangled (2010) but also doubled as duos of Thugs and Guards in the animated picture.

13. John Lasseter

With five features under his belt, John Lasseter has had plenty of opportunity to throw himself behind the microphone, however upon review of his filmography, you’ll find he has chosen his roles very carefully, as the role of John Lassetire in Cars 2 (2011) and the hilariously bug-zapped Harry the Mosquito in A Bug’s Life (1998).

  • Thad Komorowski

    Eric Goldberg also did Warner voices for Chuck Jones during the ’90s. He’s Tweety, Marvin, and (I believe) Porky in “Superior Duck”.

  • Tim Hodge

    Barry Cook has a cameo line in “Mulan” as well. He’s the farmer ancestor in the “American Gothic” tableau who says, “Not to mention they’ll lose the farm!”

  • Larry Levine

    Chuck Jones voiced Junior Kangaroo in his version of “Horton Hears a Who!” and Porky Pine in “The Pogo Special Birthday Special”

  • SteveSegal

    The great Tex Avery voiced a variety of dim witted characters in his cartoons. And co-director Andrew Stanton was the other bug attracted by the bug zapper in A Bug’s Life, of course his best known voice is crush in his Finding Nemo.

  • What about Steve Anderson doing a grand job as Bowler Hat Guy in Disney’s Meet the Robinsons? He did amazing voice and character work there.

  • Steve Henderson

    Nice list! Just to add to it over in the UK Aardmans Peter Lord voiced a policeman in “Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists” or to give it the incorrect name “The Pirates, Band of Misfits” and I believe Lee Unkrich voiced the jack-in-a-box that says “New Toys!” in Toy Story 3.

  • jhalpernkitcat

    This maintains my belief that animation directors get to give themselves some of the best characters to voice. I loved Bird as Edna Mode. Also it gives some directors such as Sanders, Coffin and Renaud, and Wedge the excuse to speak complete gibberish, shriek, scream, and spit all over their microphones, and have absolute fun with it.

  • Michael Fox

    Good list; don’t forget, TV show creators still do stuff on their shows. Alex Hirsch plays the voices of Stan and Soos on Gravity Falls (alongside some other characters and one-offs). Also, Regular Show’s JG Quintel does Mordecai (literally the same as his real voice) and High-Five Ghost.

    • Nick

      And Pendelton Ward plays Lumpy Space Princess on Adventure Time.

      • Skyler 2nd

        Yeah and Dan Povenmire as Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Jeff Swamp” Marsh as Major Monogram in Phineas and Ferb

  • BullSnap

    Bill Kopp with Eek the Cat, Tom of Tom & Jerry & Mr Mewser for Twistwd Whiskers

  • Nick

    Cool list! Although Andrew Stanton as Crush in Finding Nemo is noticeably absent.

  • Jeff Missinne

    While he didn’t direct this particular cartoon (though he did produce it,) that’s Walter Lantz’s voice as the guy who stops in front of the pet shop to look at “that doggie in the window” in the Woody Woodpecker epic GET LOST, LITTLE DOGGIE.

  • You forgot Stanton and “Crush” in Nemo!

  • JodyMorgan

    Ralph Bakshi also played some bit parts in Wizards, including a soldier named Fritz… and his friend Max, who accidentally (?) kills him.

    And I have to say I’m elated to see Cats Don’t Dance get some love here; it’s a very fun, and very neglected, movie. If it’s released in anamorphic widescreen on Blu-Ray, that in itself will be enough to make me finally commit to getting a Blu-Ray player. As it is, I’m sorely tempted to invest in a laserdisc player…

  • Craig Wittler

    And how could everyone forget Bill Scott, best/almost-only known as Co-Producer with Jay Ward on Bullwinkle/George of the Jungle/etc. but if they hadn’t set a rule of “one credit per person” for the closing credits, he’d have gotten to show off for Writing AND the voices of… (takes a deep breath) …Bullwinkle, Dudley DoRight, Mr. Peabody, George of the Jungle, Superchicken, Tom Slick AND Fillmore the Bear on Hoppity Hooper (replacing Alan Reed, who got a better gig on The Flintstones while Hoppity waited in Development Hell for two years). One of the biggest shocks of my pursing an interest in cartoons after I supposedly had outgrown them was realizing Mr. Scott voiced as much of my childhood as Daws Butler, Paul Frees and even Mel Blanc.

  • Steve Henderson

    Oh Yeah and Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse! This is in the days before directors were credited and the films were more likely to be labelled as “Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse” even though Ub Iwerks and co put in all the legwork and later others.

  • e

    As an extension to this – No. 13 – you missed that Stanton is the other bug that Lasseter is talking to in A Bug’s Life – although if you wanted to be nitpicky he was only ‘Co-Director’ not fully credited as Director! ;)

  • mutsbug

    dont forget Roz from Monsters Inc, voiced by writer/director Bob Peterson

  • Ed

    And director Kevin Lima as the Possum Park’s walk-around Lester in A Goofy Movie.