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60 Little Known Facts About the Voices Behind Disney’s Characters

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60 Little Known Facts About the Voices Behind Disney’s Characters
Ready to revisit your Disney childhood favorites?
Every time you took a magic carpet ride with Aladdin in front of your TV, did you know the real famous face behind the Disney prince? Or that the actor that helped Lumière come to life wasn’t French at all? 
Did you know that a certain Scandal star is also the voice behind an animated Disney character? Or that the woman who gave life to Ariel in The Little Mermaid almost voiced another princess?

If you answered “no” or “nah” or “leave me alone, please” to any of those questions, then it’s time you get some Disney education, dear friend. And no, we won’t leave you alone. Not until you know the faces and fun facts behind some of Disney and Pixar’s most famous animated characters!
From the original princess Snow White to everyone’s favorite Frozen queen Elsa, we’ve dug up cool behind-the-scenes info on all of the actor and actresses who voiced your faves! Ready to go on a Disney binge? Let’s make some magic!

Donna Svennevik/ABC; Disney

Bambi, Bambi

Donnie Dunagan provided the of Disney’s beloved deer for the 1942 film during his brief stint as a child actor. He went on to become a highly decorated U.S. Marine!

Disney, Getty Images

Rapunzel, Tangled

Former teen pop star Mandy Moore voiced the princess with 70-foot long hair, who was also the first Disney princess to have supernatural powers. Natalie Portman was also considered for the role.

Disney, Apic/Getty Images

Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney himself voiced the character he created for almost 20 years, but was then replaced in 1946 by Jimmy MacDonald after he became too busy. Rumor has it that Walt’s voice was damaged by his smoking habit and he was unable to keep hitting the high notes in Mickey’s voice, and that’s why they needed a new Mickey.

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Disney, Film Favorites/Getty Images

Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty

Angelina Jolie may have played the iconic role in Maleficent, but before her it was all about Eleanor Audley. Eleanor was also the voice behind the evil stepmother Lady Tremaine in Cinderella.

Disney, AP Photo

Snow White, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The original Disney princess was played by Adriana Caselotti, an 18-year-old Italian opera singer. Walt Disney reportedly personally chose her for the role.

Disney, Getty Images

Randy, Monsters, Inc.

Boardwalk Empire star Steve Buscemi provided the voice for the villain in Monsters, Inc., but only after John Goodman (Sulley) pushed to have him cast.

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Disney, Getty Images

Queen Elinor, Brave

Emma Thompson, the woman who ruled the 2014 award season, is the voice behind Queen Elinor, who turns into a giant bear due to a witch’s curse.

Disney/Pixar/E. Charbonneau/WireImage for Disney Pictures

Alfredo Linguini, Ratatouille

Lou Romano is no stranger to Disney movies, though this was his first starring role. He’s also lent his vocal talents to characters in Cars and The Incredibles. 

Disney/Pixar, Getty Images

Colette Tatou, Ratatouille

Comedienne Janeane Garofalo has admitted in interviews that she doesn’t know why she was chosen to voice the tough-as-nails chef, but she is “endlessly flattered” that she was.

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Disney, Getty Images

Helen Parr/Elastigirl, The Incredibles

It’s a good thing Holly Hunter got some superhero experience from Disney, as she was later cast in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016.

Disney/Pixar, Getty Images

Lightning McQueen, Cars

Funnyman Owen Wilson gave life to Lightning McQueen in both Cars and Cars 2. This was also the first Pixar movie where they really promoted the film using the actors behind the characters (Wilson and Paul Newman).

Disney, Getty Images

Carl, Up

Legendary actor Edward Asner provided the voice for grumpy Carl, a character whose face and personality are based on both Spencer Tracy and Walter Matthau.

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Disney, Getty Images

Tarzan

Tony Goldwyn, the currest POTUS on Scandal and the man in love with Olivia Pope, is the actor behind the tree-swinging Tarzan.

Disney, Getty Images

Yzma, The Emperor’s New Groove

Eartha Kitt as the evil Yzma got a little nod to her role as the original Catwoman when she’s turned into a kitten at the end of the movie.

Disney, Getty Images

Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story

Tim Allen took the role of Buzz Lightyear after Chevy Chase turned it down. Allen has said that Chevy was one of the biggest influences in his career, and his idol passing on Buzz right before he was offered the part was the main reason he decided to do Toy Story.

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Disney/Pixar, Getty Images

Remy, Ratatouille

The one and only Patton Oswalt, aka the man who gave the greatest filibuster ever, is the voice behind the rat who can cook better than most French folks.

Disney, Getty Images

Emperor Kuzco, The Emperor’s New Groove

David Spade was in his mid-30’s when he voiced Emperor Kuzco, who is supposed to be 18.

Disney, Getty Images

Gill, Finding Nemo

The coloration of Gil’s face is supposed to simulate the lines around the mouth of the man who portrays him, Willem Dafoe.

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Disney, Getty Images

Woody, Toy Story

Tom Hanks has said that he was interested in the role of Woody the cowboy because as a kid he always wondered if his toys would come to life when nobody was in the room.

Disney, Michael Rozman/ Warner Bros.

Dory, Finding Nemo

Dory the forgetful fish was written specifically for comedienne and Emmy-winning talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

Disney, Getty Images

Marlin, Finding Nemo

Academy Award-nominee and regular Simpsons voice actor Albert Brooks was the only person considered for the role of the overprotective clown fish.

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Disney, Getty Images

Jessica Rabbit, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Kathleen Turner was nine months pregnant when she recorded her role as the smoldering, sexy Jessica Rabbit.

Disney, Getty Images

Merida, Brave

Boardwalk Empire star Kelly Macdonald used her own Scottish accent for the role of the unruly princess.

Disney, Getty Images

Princess Aurora, Sleeping Beauty

Mary Costa was already a well-known opera singer when she auditoned to play Princess Aurora in 1952. Walt Disney personally called her hours after her audition to offer her the role.

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Disney, Getty Images

Lucius Best/Frozone, The Incredibles

Before he was helping out the Avengers as Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson was yelling at his wife to help him find his super suit!

Disney, Getty Images

Penny, Bolt

Much like herself, Miley Cyrus once gave her voice to animal-lover Penny in Bolt.

Disney, Getty Images

Kristoff, Frozen

Looking star Jonathan Groff is one of the few characters to not get a big song in Frozen, yet he’s a very seasoned Broadway vet.

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Disney, Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Ariel, The Little Mermaid

When Jodi Benson sang the iconic song “Part of Your World,” she recorded it in the dark to get a more underwater feel.

Disney, Getty Images

Mr. Incredible, The Incredibles

Coach himself, Craig T. Nelson, spent over two years recording his part of Mr. Incredible.

Disney, Getty Images

Sulley, Monsters, Inc.

John Goodman not only voiced Sulley in both Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University, but he also played the part of Pacha opposite David Spade in The Emperor’s New Groove.

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Disney, AP Photo

Mike Wazowski, Monsters, Inc.

Before Billy Crystal took on the role of monster Mike, he was offered the part of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story.

Disney, Getty Images

Vanellope von Schweet, Wreck-It Ralph

The director of 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph created the character of Vanellope after reading Sarah Silverman’s book The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee.

Disney, SIPA USA

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph himself was modeled after the man who voices him, John C. Reilly.

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Disney, Getty Images

Bolt

Along with voicing the titular character, John Travolta also recorded a song with Miley Cyrus for the film.

Disney, Getty Images

Elsa, Frozen

Idina Menzel auditioned for the role of Rapunzel in Tangled, but lost out to Mandy Moore. However, the creators of Frozen saw her Tangled audition and that’s what led to her getting the role of Elsa.

Disney, Getty Images

Hercules

Tate Donovan (Friends, The O.C., 24: Live Another Day) gave life to the legendary hero and son of Zeus in the 1997 animated film.

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Disney, Getty Images

Jafar, Aladdin

Jonathan Freeman reprised his role as the evil Jafar in the Broadway adaptation of the Disney classic.

Disney, Getty Images

Pocahontas

Irene Bedard not only voiced Pocahontas, but she was also the physical model for the animated character.

Disney, Getty Images

Princess Jasmine, Aladdin

Linda Larkin may have provided the voice for Jasmine, but her appearance was modeled after actress Jennifer Connelly.

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Disney, Getty Images

Mulan

Ming-Na Wen is still playing a totally badass woman; she stars in ABC’s Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as agent Melinda May.

Disney, Getty Images

Belle, Beauty and the Beast

Jodi Benson, the voice behind Ariel in The Little Mermaid, was supposed to play Belle, but it was decided that Belle needed to sound more European, so Paige O’Hara was brought in.

Disney, Getty Images

Flynn Ryder, Tangled

Chuck star Zachary Levi auditioned for the role of the thief with a heart of gold in a British accent, but it was dropped once recording began.

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Disney, Getty Images

Ana, Frozen

Kristen Bell has said that her life-long dream was to be a Disney princess, and with sweet but naïve Anna, she got her wish!

Disney, Getty Images

Princess Tiana, The Princess and the Frog

Anika Noni Rosa was later nominated for a Tony for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun, also starring Denzel Washington.

Disney, Getty Images

Cruella De Vil, 101 Dalmatians

While Betty Lou Gerson brought life to the evil Curella De Vil, the character’s personality was based on flamboyant actress Tallulah Bankhead.

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Disney, Getty Images

Pongo, 101 Dalmatians

Two years after Rod Taylor voiced Pongo in 101 Dalmatians, he starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary and iconic film The Birds.

Disney, Getty Images

Copper, The Fox and the Hound

There was a rumor that Kurt Russell recorded his lines for Copper while in his Escape from New York costume since both movies came around the same time, but Disney has since debunked that myth.

Disney, Getty Images

Tod, The Fox and the Hound

Legendary actor Mickey Rooney gave life to Tod, the fox who became unlikely best friends with a hound dog.

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Disney, Getty Images

Robin Hood

Legendary stage actor Brian Bedford is the man behind the hero who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

Disney, Getty Images

The Beast, Beauty and the Beast

Robby Benson’s voice was altered by the growls of real lions and panthers, and viewers don’t actually hear his real voice until after he is transformed back into a prince at the end.

Photos
See More From The Faces & Facts Behind Disney Characters

Which character is your favorite? Sound off in the comments!
Princess Jasmine, Linda Larkin, Disney VoicesReady to revisit your Disney childhood favorites?
Every time you took a magic carpet ride with Aladdin in front of your TV, did you know the real famous face behind the Disney prince? Or…

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