Famous Hollywood actors and actresses doing the voicework for cartoon movies

Why? Does having Will Ferrell do the voice of a cartoon alien add anything to the movie? Don’t you hear the character speak and immediately think “Oh, heh, that’s Will Ferrell?” Why not get an unknown voice actor with some cartoon voice talent to do these jobs? Why pay a premium for a name actor when you could probably get some schmo to work for 1/20 of the pay?

Big name actors sell tickets.

Yes. It adds a recognizable name that they can put on the movie poster.

I thought the same when I heard that Ray Romano was doing the Wooly Mammoth from Ice Age. At least Will Ferrel is dynamic and animated (no pun intended), but Ray just…sounds like himself. I would agree that a much cheaper actor could have done his job just as serviceably.

But so what. You’re not actually going to see Will Ferrell. Unless he’s helping write the dialogue, he adds almost nothing to the movie.

I better question is “Why not use a talented voice actor?”

A Seth McFarlane or Billy West is going to do a better job than a Leonardo DiCaprio is capable of, even if 80% of the general population doesn’t recognize their names.

That’s not important. You know who he is, so you’re more likely to remember the movie.

And, usually, stars like that do a lot of ad libs. They’ll be fitting the animation to the voices, not the other way around.

Big names work pretty cheaply on voice work. It’s easy work – you can usually do it in a day or two working in the studio, so something like $50,000 is good money for the actor. So the producer has the advantage of something that sells more tickets at a reasonable price.

Besides, most actors do add something to a movie. Saying a particular name adds nothing is like saying it adds nothing hiring him or her as a live-action actor. Their talent is reading lines well and that’s what you want in a voice actor.

I think what matters is getting a talented actor who has the ability or natural voice to add to the character of the role.

Ray Romano is great as an irritable mammoth, and John Leguizamo surprised a lot of people at his very characterised turn as Sid Sloth in Ice Age.

Tom Hanks has an everyman charm that works perfectly for Woody, but he was also cast before he was a big name and started winning Oscars. Until then he was known for heartfelt and silly comedies.

But then after Toy Story, the other studios got the wrong idea and thought it was big names that made CG movies work, so we got absurd nonsense like Shark Tale and Antz which were each horribly miscast or lost their way emphasising the celebrity roll call.

They’ve since pulled back and tried to cast a little more appropriately, finding actors who already have the voice and characterisations to pull off the role, even if they are a celebrity. Hence, Jack Black as Po in Kung Fu Panda, or David Schwimmer as Melman in Madagascar.

Inevitably they still occasionally cast names instead of characters, like Angelina Jolie in Kung Fu Panda, or Jerry Seinfeld casting himself as the lead in Bee Movie, but I think that’s the exception these days.

I haven’t watched a non-Pixar animated film from the past two years, though.

Tom Hanks was in Bonfire of the Vanities, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump and Apollo 13 before he ever did Toy Story.

Sometimes they also fit the animation to the actor’s mannerisms although I can’t think of any examples offhand.

Not quite correct. He was cast by Pixar as Woody just before he was nominated for the Oscar for Philadelphia, so the prominence he gained from that, Forrest Gump, and Apollo 13 was not part of the decision-making process of casting him, which was my point.

I actually enjoyed “Ratatouille” precisely for the lack of big-name talent. Brad Garrett and Patton Oswalt are familiar names to TV viewers, but they’re not huge box-office names on the order of Will Smith or John Travolta. They were cast precisely because they are good at characterization.

Perhaps, but he was already a household name having starred in Big, Sleepless in Seattle, Splash, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bosom Buddies (TV Show), A League of Their Own, Joe vs. the Volcano, etc.

I think another reason they cast big stars is because big star can do promotion too. You can put Tom Hanks or Eddie Murphy on Leno, and have the do the promotional circuit.

Actually, he wasn’t. I know it’s hard to imagine, but at the time even after Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hanks was no more a household name than someone like Ryan Reynolds is today. His work was known by some, and had its share of fans, but for most of the world he was anonymous actor number #3792B. His Oscars, and especially Forrest Gump, changed all that and put him top of the A-List.

Which is the point of this thread - casting big name stars, instead of suitable character actors; Hanks was an everyman character actor, cast for his suitability for the role of Woody (who was in fact originally written, unintentionally, as quite mean and unlikeable, which they adjusted in subsequent rewrites).

True. At the time Toy Story was being cast, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were at about the same level of stardom.