• Manuel Orozco

    Nowadays with movies in general, I’m more drawn to the story or certain brand than star power. Whoever is casted makes or breaks a movie. The main concept is what draws me to an animated feature. Two modern examples of celebrity animated casting are Ellen DeGeneres as Dory and Larry the Cable Guy and Paul Newman as Mater and Doc respectively.

    • I agree. If it’s a good story, I’m in. No matter who does the voices.

      • Manuel Orozco

        Good to hear! Besides, animated movie star billing doesn’t happen a lot these days.

  • My theory is that studios use A- list celebrities for marketing reasons, to get adults
    interested in the movie, much in the same way as live- action films. They may also
    do it because finding an A-list celebrity to voice a character is probably easier than
    going out and finding an unknown person to do the role. Me personally, I go see an
    animated story based on the story and to a lessor extent, critic reviews. Don’t mind
    what voice actor they use, celebrity or not, as long as they are good fit for the role.

    • I like that thought about getting adults interested. Like, “That’s just a kid’s movie… oh wait! Amy Poehler is doing a voice? Maybe this is legit!”

      • Manuel Orozco

        Let’s not forget the kids if they are a bit familiar with stars

      • JamScoBal

        That may be true but studios do this so much that it really isn’t a big deal anymore but the sad thing is that smaller studios have to do the same thing or else they won’t be taken seriously.

        • Casey Oswald

          It’s sad but true. They lose the clout of having real celebrities and people skip their films.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Well not every all star cast voice movie lures me

    • There’s a Bancroft Brothers podcast — the exact episode of which I cannot remember — where one of Disney’s 90s animators explicitly stated that the use of celebrities as voice-actors was upped post-Aladdin ‘for the films’ press/PR tours.’

      Shows like Entertainment Tonight and The Tonight Show were faaar more likely to repeatedly feature segments about recently released Disney cartoons if they could book an appearance by Mel Gibson or Demi Moore than, say, the more talented voice acting of a Jodi Benson or Paige O’Hara.

      (That said, Disney had been using high-profile celebrity voices since as far back as Pinocchio. Most notably, Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket.)

      • Casey Oswald

        That’s a good point about the press tour. I bet the celebs help get the movie more noticed.

  • Tad Stones

    Yes, stars help market a film by appearing at events and on television. They let you know a film is coming out and perhaps their description of the film make some consider seeing it because it sounds interesting. I doubt a huge number of people see a film to hear a voice.
    So forget thinking about “the studio.” Think about the film makers. They have a script or storyboard and possibly initial character design explorations. They know the kind of character they want their creation to be. So they talk with the casting director and go through the process of casting the film — just like any other film. They are looking for someone who can take the raw material and make it their own and at the same time, inspire the animators.
    Is Kristen Bell a major celebrity that brought in to deliver throngs of fans to “Frozen?” No, but she did an amazing job as Anna. Animation directors are looking for actors to inspire them, to help create the characters. Sometimes that’s an unknown getting a lead part, as in “Moanna.” Or a comedian like Eddie Murphy as a donkey.

    • Casey Oswald

      Those are some great thoughts. I like your point about Kristen Bell.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Never thought of it much before. So I guess that could be a wise way to cast a character. Kristin wasn’t the only star that lured me to Frozen. There was of course the other half of the sister act behind the movie Idina Menzel as Elsa. I have heard her sing way before Frozen entered the picture. The first time was the Wicked Original Broadway Cast recording. At first when I heard Defying Gravity, I thought I was hearing Stephanie J. Block who originated the role of Elphaba on tour singing. But what I heard was an equally showstopping voice. I even wore one of my Wicked T Shirts when I went to see Frozen at the El Capitan in Ms. Menzel’s honor as well as at the time the show’s 10th anniversary on Broadway.

  • Phoenix Wright

    In an ideal world, I would want them to cast a voice based on the actual voice. Like by doing all the auditions without the casting directors seeing the person, just hearing their voice. Like you said, there are plenty of movies that have huge stars but that never guarantees success. What’s going to make a movie successful (in terms of voice actors) is voice actors that really match their characters.

    Whenever I think of who is the worst chosen celebrity voice actor, I always think of Miley Cyrus in Bolt. There was nothing that I liked about her in that movie. She was just talking exactly the way that she sounds in real life (another problem many celebrity voice actors have), her actual acting skills aren’t very good, and she just sounded way too old for the little girl she was playing.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Well I didn’t mind Miley at all. I used to love her as Hannah Montana and thought it was cool that she’s part of the Disney family in more than one form or fashion. Now 6 years after the show was out of the picture, my crush on her is ancient history.

      • Casey Oswald

        I didn’t mind her in Bolt. I think she has an interesting voice.

        • Manuel Orozco

          I know what you mean. I’ve been thinking about Miley a lot lately and how I have outgrown from her for the past few years. The guilt of missing out on most of Season 3 and the final season completely has been coming back to haunt my mind on and off since I’m starting to watch Disney Channel again. All thanks to Raven’s Home next week, Tangled and Hotel Transylvania. Back to main focus of what I’m saying, Miley’s image in recent years just isn’t there for me. If I had watched every Hannah Montana show, maybe I would have watched her on the Voice last fall.

          • Casey Oswald

            You’re not missing much in those last 2 seasons. It’s quality dropped. But her image now is just scary

          • Manuel Orozco

            Well my loss I got spoiler alerts that Miley gave up being Hannah and later chose to attend Stanford with Lily. Moving out at first was painful but quickly drifted away like a distant memory. Felt like my teen hood died along with it since I was about to turn 18 when the show ended

          • Manuel Orozco

            Well how about we talk about another voice that worked? Mandy Moore as Rapunzel who was my first celebrity crush as a kid.

    • Casey Oswald

      I love the idea of casting on the sound alone. They could do it like the Voice! ?

  • Tory

    I’ve always assumed A-list actors were chosen because Hollywood is too afraid of taking a risk on a new comer let alone to be more marketable. For me it’s usually how the movie is presented first then the voice acting a close second. Though in the end star power or not it comes down to how well the actor in general can voice act. For example I’ve never been fond of the english dub of Studio Ghibli’s films. Some actors worked some didn’t. Some could pronounce Japanese words while some were rather awkward.

    As far as movies go…..Disney and Pixar, for the most part have always done a good job in their choices. And The Book of Life with their nearly all Latino cast added to the cultural immersion of the movie….Even though the story needed a bit more polishing.

    • Casey Oswald

      Studio Ghibli is a perfect example!

  • I think it depends on which actor is suited for VAing
    Actors like Robin Williams who were so perfectly fit for their roles and adds so much for their movies. But I think since we’ve been so used to having celebrities in animated films, we just don’t accept those who are really talented in voice work and look more to animated shows for talented VA work.
    We do still have great celebrity work in animation, but still it’s a shame we don’t see a lot of just really talented specifically trained VAs or even open calls like in Moana for animated films as much….

    • Casey Oswald

      I think it’s great to use an unknown because it really doesn’t matter if it’s a good script. They could make someone’s career. Like Auli’l

      • Manuel Orozco

        Or Jodi Benson when she started voicing Ariel nearly 30 years ago

        • Casey Oswald

          Right. She’s very familiar now.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Exactly. John Musker and Rob Clements sure know how to create fresh female talent

  • Juuchan17

    I’m more drawn into an animated movie’s premise and characters (and sometimes the studio) rather than who voices the characters or who is getting top-billing to give certain movies their “star power”. However, if they can show a celebrity doing a good job at bringing a character to life with its voice, then why not?

    Here’s a recent example that actually made me a bit mad: Hasbro’s “My Little Pony: The Movie” already has a huge fanbase (thanks to the rebooted FiM series, now on its 7th season) that is excited for its movie debut, and yet on the trailer and the poster, A-List stars that play one-shot characters for the movie ended up with top-billing instead of the cast of the actual main characters (the Mane 6 and Spike) of the movie. Granted, some of the A-Listers are actually decent actors and have done voicework (Kristen Chenoweth), and what the trailer shows is actually good… so maybe they just had good training? I’ll give it a chance, mainly because I am a pony fan myself.

    But there’s ways that having a big name can just… FAIL. I’m looking at you, “Epic”. Honestly, mostly all the voicework in that film was great… except for Beyonce as Queen Tara. This was probably one of the only times when I liked a character’s personality but HATED the voice. I know they were trying to get star power, but she was weak sauce and was only there to be Soundtrack bait.

    Also, is it just me or do comedians do some of the best voicework as non-professional VAs in animated movies? Eddie Murphy had a couple of great roles as Donkey (the Shrek series) and Mushu (Mulan); Robin Williams was a breakout star as Genie (Aladdin) though he also debuted as a VA as Batty Koda in “Ferngully”; Dom Deluise was in many roles for Don Bluth – Jeremy (Secret of NIMH), Tiger (all the “American Tail” things), Stanley (A Troll in Central Park) and Itchy (all the ADGTH things); Ellen DeGeneres and Larry the Cable Guy are two of Pixar’s stars as Dory and Tow Mater, respectively; and the list goes on…