Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out is now playing nationwide. It’s a brilliant film and a continued reminder of the seemingly unlimited creative genius of Pixar, with emotions serving as the main characters and much of the action taking place inside an 11-year-old girl’s head. It’s also excellently cast. Certifiable sparkplug Amy Poehler plays Joy, curmudgeonly Lewis Black plays Anger, uppity Mindy Kaling plays Disgust, jittery Bill Hader plays Fear and morose Phyllis Smith plays Sadness (perfect right?)
Kaling isn’t just a Pixar personality, however. She recently starred in a Disney animated film (more on that in a minute), which was enough to get us to thinking about actors and actresses who have provided vocal performances for both Disney and Disney•Pixar movies. Our list follows.
Jodi Benson – The Little Mermaid/Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3
Jodi Benson is most famous for lending her vocal stylings to Ariel in The Little Mermaid (and in countless sequels, spin-offs and theme park attractions). But she also stars as the tough-but-sweet Barbie in the two Toy Story sequels (and the truly incredible short film Hawaiian Vacation). While Barbie might be a less flashy performance, it is by no means less memorable.
John Goodman – The Princess and the Frog and The Emperor’s New Groove/Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University
True, Goodman is probably best remembered as ace scarer James “Sulley” Sullivan from Monsters, Inc. and lively prequel film Monsters University. But he’s also voiced a pair of Disney characters in fan-favorites, The Princess and the Frog and The Emperor’s New Groove. In The Princess and the Frog, Goodman stars as Louisiana titan “Big Daddy” La Bouff, Charlotte’s father, and a surrogate dad of sorts to Tiana. In The Emperor’s New Groove, he’s Pacha, a family man and peasant that gets swept up in Kuzco’s mystical adventure.
Emma Thompson – Treasure Planet/Brave
Talk about some transformations! Classical British actress and writer Emma Thompson played catlike Captain Amelia in Disney’s revisionist sci-fi spin on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (handily renamed Treasure Planet). And years later, in Brave, she played a queen who is turned into a bear by her headstrong daughter. When it comes to turning classy actresses into weirdly anthropomorphic mammals, nobody does it better than Disney and Pixar.
Craig Ferguson – Winnie the Pooh/Brave
For the new version of Winnie the Pooh (which is totally brilliant and you should all see if you haven’t already), Disney hired late night funnyman Craig Ferguson to voice iconic know-it-all Owl. A year later Ferguson would throw in for Pixar, playing warring Lord Macintosh, whose son vies for the hand of dashing princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald), in Brave. The characters couldn’t be any more different but thanks to Ferguson they’re equally lovable.
Edie McClurg – The Little Mermaid, Wreck-It Ralph, Home on the Range and Frozen, Cars, Cars 2 and A Bug’s Life
Even if you don’t know who Edie McClurg is, you’ve seen (and heard) her countless times, probably most identifiably as the principal’s secretary in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. She’s also appeared in a bunch of animated classics – she’s Prince Eric’s maid in The Little Mermaid, one of the Nicelanders in Wreck-It Ralph, one of the handmaidens in Frozen and, somewhat mysteriously, an “additional voice” in Home on the Range. Additionally she appeared in A Bug’s Life and the two Cars movies for Pixar (she played, somewhat predictably, a bug and a car). McClurg probably deserves bonus Disney voice points for appearing in the Americanized cast for two Hayao Miyazaki movies released by Disney: Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbors the Yamadas.
Brad Garrett –Tangled/Finding Nemo and Ratatouille
The deep baritone of Brad Garrett’s voice is instantly recognizable in the best possible way, both threatening and cuddly, which is probably why he plays the scary-at-first Hook-Hand Thug at the Snuggly Duckling (later revealed to be a big softy) in Tangled. Garrett’s roles for Pixar are somewhat different: in Finding Nemo he plays Bloat, the puffer fish in the Tank Gang and in Ratatouille he plays the pivotal role of Gusteau, a starry celebrity chef whose ghost aids Remy (Patton Oswalt) in his quest for greatness.
Wallace Shawn – Chicken Little, Teacher’s Pet and A Goofy Movie/Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, and The Incredibles
Wallace Shawn has had an incredible career, serving as an actor, writer, essayist, dancer, stand up comedian and part-time chef (okay that last part is a lie). But he might be best known for his vocal performances. For Disney, he’s starred in a trio of offbeat animated films – Chicken Little, Teacher’s Pet and A Goofy Movie. (Early in his career he secured a role in The Fox & the Hound but was eventually replaced.) His luck turned around for Pixar, where he voiced an insurance drone in The Incredibles and, achieving something close to immortality, as Rex the dinosaur in the Toy Story films (and short films and television specials).
Joan Cusack – Chicken Little/Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3
As far as rootin’, tootin’ cowgirls go, they don’t get much better than Jesse, played by Joan Cusack in Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3. She serves as the emotional center for the second film (and for the Halloween special Toy Story of Terror). More than five years after first playing Jesse, though, she would also voice Abby Mallard aka the Ugly Ducking in Disney’s computer generated Chicken Little.
Mindy Kaling – Wreck-It Ralph/Inside Out
Mindy Kaling is so perfect as Disgust in this week’s marvelous Pixar film Inside Out that it’s easy to forget that she already voiced a character in an animated feature before. Yes, she was Taffyta Muttonfudge, a Sugar Rush racer in Wreck-It Ralph three whole years ago. It’s pretty disgusting that we didn’t remember that earlier.
Steve Buscemi – Home on the Range/Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University
It’s one thing to be a villain in a Disney animated film, it’s an entirely other thing altogether to be a villain in both a Disney animated film and a Pixar film. But Steve Buscemi has done just that. In Home on the Range, Buscemi played a weasel-y middleman named Wesley (who looks shockingly like American actor Steve Buscemi) and in Monsters, Inc. and the prequel film Monsters University he plays a similarly weasel-y, chameleon-ish monster.
Jennifer Tilly – Home on the Range/Monsters, Inc.
Jennifer Tilly’s breathy voice is distinctive and has been put to good use in Monsters, Inc., where she plays a Cyclops with hissing Medusa hair and, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, played a happy-go-lucky cow in Home on the Range (three years later). Versatility is important for any actor or actress, even if you can’t see their face.
Cheech Marin – Oliver & Company and The Lion King/Cars and Cars 2
There’s something animalistic about Cheech Marin’s voice. Or at least somebody at Disney must have thought so, considering he played wise-cracking chihuahua Tito in Oliver & Company and, just a few years later, portrayed dastardly hyena Banzai in The Lion King. For Pixar, his characterizations have been purely automotive – he plays low rider Ramone in Cars and Cars 2. Marin gets bonus points for appearing in “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” (based on a Pixar property but not animated by Pixar) and on Radiator Springs Racers (reprising his Cars role), making his presence in Disney California Adventure rival Neil Patrick Harris’.
Estelle Harris – Home on the Range, Teacher’s Pet, and Brother Bear/Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3
Harris is a comedy legend who might best be known as George’s mother on Seinfeld. But she has also made quite a splash in the animated realm, voicing Audrey (a chicken) in Disney animated western Home on the Range and essaying roles in both Teacher’s Pet and Brother Bear. With Pixar, though, she voiced a more substantial role in Mrs. Potato Head, as seen in Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3. (She also appeared in all three Toy Story short films.) She should also get bonus points for being a part of direct-to-video sequel Tarzan II.
Whoopi Goldberg – The Lion King/Toy Story 3
If you need a villainous sidekick, you need look no further than Whoopi Goldberg. The comedian and television personality essayed similar roles in two animated features. For Disney, she played Shenzi, a hyena lackey who works for big bad Scar, in The Lion King. Years later for Pixar’s Toy Story 3 she played Stretch, a gummy purple octopus who serves as an enforcer for Lotso, the kingpin-like teddy bear. We’re not exactly sure what in Goldberg’s voice screams “second tier bad guy,” but she’s so darn good at it, we hesitate to question anything.
David Hyde Pierce – Treasure Planet/A Bug’s Life
There’s something stuffy about the way that David Hyde Pierce speaks; and he’s pretty much built his entire career around that characteristic, as he’s almost always playing some kind of uptight square, from Frasier all the way to two animated films. In Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, Pierce played a walking stick named Slim, an actor who dreamed of bigger, more complicated roles. (He’s tired of being a prop.) Similarly, in Disney’s Treasure Planet, Pierce played a doglike astrologer who could never be mistaken for being “loose.” Pierce is brittle and hilarious; it’s even funnier when a fancy man falls flat on his face.
Can you think of any other actors that have appeared in both Disney and Disney•Pixar movies? Tell us who they are in the comments!