Disney's newest animated feature, Moana, is already a box office smash, earning rave reviews for its original story and gorgeous animation. Praise is also being heaped upon the film's two central voice actors: Newcomer Auli'i Cravalo as heroine Moana, and #DwayneJohnson as demi-god Maui.
Sadly, great voice acting performances in #Disney films are often overlooked in favor of focusing on story and animation. This is a shame, for without these voice actors, the stories everyone loves so much could not be truly brought to life. #Animation can only do so much. For these characters to feel as real as they do, they need to be given a voice.
So, here are some of the greatest voice acting performances in Disney films:
1. Jim Cummings As Tigger — 'The Tigger Movie'
In The Tigger Movie, Pooh Bear's bouncy pal Tigger embarks on a quest to find his family after growing tired of being the "onliest one."
Jim Cummings pulls double duty in this film, voicing both Tigger and Pooh, though his performance as Tigger is particularly memorable, especially during the dramatic avalanche scene at the film's climax. Cummings brings a sweet vulnerability to Tigger that was not as apparent in the character's earlier appearance. The performance is even more impressive considering that The Tigger Movie marks Cummings's first turn as the full-time official voice of Tigger. Prior to this film, he served as a back up for Tigger's aging original voice actor, Paul Winchell.
2. Ming-Na Wen As Mulan — 'Mulan'
#Mulan, the story of a young Chinese woman who sneaks away to take her father's place in the army, seemed a risky move for Disney at the time of its release. The story was adapted from a beloved Chinese legend, but China was a market that had proven difficult to please for Disney in the past.
Ming-Na Wen, best known at the time for her roles in E.R and The Joy Luck Club, took on the role of Mulan, with her portrayal hailed as a key part of the film's success. Mulan was a multi-layered character, equal parts strong, vulnerable, and a bit of a goofball, and Ming-Na played all sides brilliantly. Her performance in the sequel is equally impressive.
3. Robby Benson As The Beast — 'Beauty & The Beast'
With the Beauty & The Beast live-action remake arriving in 2017, a lot of attention is turning towards the original animated classic. We are remembering what made the original great, and why the remake has such high standards to live up to.
Quite possibly the highest of those standards rests in Robby Benson's performance as the Beast. Many filmmakers would have been tempted to cast different voice actors as the Beast and The Prince, but that was not necessary here. As the Beast learns, develops, and softens through the events of the film, so does Benson's portrayal of him. By the time he returns to human form, it feels like a completely natural transition.
Dan Stevens has some very big paws to fill.
4. Idina Menzel As Elsa — 'Frozen'
Nearly three years after its release, #Frozen remains a firm fan favorite. While people love the film for a great number of reasons, Idina Menzel's portrayal of ice queen Elsa was a clear highlight. And no, not just because of #LetItGo.
Like the Beast, Elsa's character goes on quite a journey over the course of the film. Menzel perfectly portrays not only Elsa's insecurities from early on, as well as the new confidence she develops toward the end of the movie. Unlike the Beast, however, Elsa's development does not feel complete quite yet. I can't wait to see what they do with her in the upcoming #Frozen2.
5. Bill Farmer As Goofy — 'A Goofy Movie'
Throughout many of his appearances in classic Disney cartoons, #Goofy was often depicted as a one-note comic relief character. Goofy would appear, cause chaos with his clumsiness, and leave, often badly injured.
In 1987, Bill Farmer took over as Goofy's voice actor, and things began to change. This change is most apparent in 1995's A Goofy Movie, depicting Goofy's fight to improve his relationship with his teenage son, Max. Through Farmer's performance in this film, Goofy is transformed. No longer a simple clumsy oaf, Goofy becomes a struggling single father — a dorky dad desperate to bridge the generation gap with his cool son. This is a situation many can relate to in real life, and Farmer's performance makes it feel heartbreakingly real.
6. Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Jim Hawkins — 'Treasure Planet'
Just as Treasure Planet is underrated in the pantheon of Disney films, so is the performance of #JosephGordonLevitt as the film's main protagonist, Jim Hawkins.
Beginning the film as a rebellious teenager, Jim could have easily come off as a brat. Levitt's performance prevents this, quickly making it obvious that there is more to Jim than can be seen at first glance. The reveal of Jim's troubled past in the "I'm Still Here" sequence doesn't come as a shock, as Levitt's portrayal of Jim hinted that there was much more inside his mind.
7. Jim Cummings As Pooh — 'Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin'
As the longest serving and most beloved of Winnie The Pooh's voice actors, Jim Cummings has put in many great performances as the bear with very little brain, but the one in Pooh's Grand Adventure is up there with the greatest.
Aside from introducing some of the greatest #Pooh quotes, this film features Cummings performance of heartwarming ballad "Wherever You Are," completely in character. That alone pushes this up to one of the best performances of his stellar career.
8. Chris Sanders As Stitch, 'Lilo & Stitch'
One of the most interesting cases on the list, Chris Sanders, the Director of Lilo & Stitch, only took on the role of the little blue alien after no actor could be found to match the voice he wanted.
With the range of vocalizations Stitch needed, the fact that Sanders was not a professional voice artist even more impressive. He created a Disney icon, returning to voice Stitch for three direct-to-video films, an animated series, and multiple video games.
9. Scott Adsit As Baymax 'Big Hero 6'
Released in 2014, Big Hero 6 was Disney's first attempt at creating an animated film from a #Marvel property. One of the film's major highlights is comedian Scott Adsit as the voice of friendly robot Baymax.
Speaking in a constant monotone, with little in the way of a face, Baymax could have been a difficult character for audiences to connect with. Not so with Adsit's voice behind him. Though maintaining the monotone, Adsit somehow managed to imbue the robot with true emotion, and audiences fell completely in love. Securing the actor's return is a huge boon for the upcoming #BigHero6 animated series.
10. Tony Jay As Frollo — 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'
Of all Disney's villains, Claude Frollo is surely among the most terrifying, if only because people like him truly do exist.
A huge part of what makes Frollo so terrifying is his voice, provided by the late Tony Jay. Even when Frollo seems to be behaving kindly toward Quasimodo, the film's unfortunate hero, there is an underlying threat behind every word. Frollo keeps Quasi only because he is useful, with no qualms about killing him once his usefulness is ended. "Hellfire," detailing Frollo's lust for Esmeralda, is the most chilling of any Disney villain song.
Who Is Your Favorite Voice Actor From A Disney Film?