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Animated Movie Actor Replacements That Probably Slipped By You

Animated movies are built on the foundation of their voice actors' performances. While it may seem like an easy task for actors to hop into a vocal booth and crank out a movie's worth of line readings, it's quite a demanding job. Many actors spend their entire careers perfecting the art of voice acting, while others merely dip their toes in the medium for a movie or two. 

However, for some actors, animation is not always a priority, meaning their exclusivity to these roles can be expendable. This often results in some actors swearing off animated projects for their entire careers, or others leaving studios to recast their roles in future films. For instance, Rowan Atkinson revealed in an interview with PeopleTV's "Couch Surfing" that he was not interested in voice acting before playing the part of Zazu in "The Lion King" (via Entertainment Weekly). Though he's honored to have been a part of the film, the slapstick actor didn't reprise the role in the direct-to-video sequel or the 2019 live-action remake.

There are many reasons voice actors don't return for their movie's sequel or spin-offs. Sometimes, it's a matter of contractual disputes, which led Robin Williams to decline to return to the role of the Genie in "Aladdin" projects after the initial film (via The LA Times). Other times, the reasons for replacing voice actors are purely logistical, such as child actors aging out of roles, or older voice actors passing away. Nevertheless, these animated characters who were recast between films may surprise audience members. 

Taffyta Muttonfudge in Ralph Breaks the Internet

The 2012 animated Disney film "Wreck-It Ralph" explores the world of arcade game characters, featuring cameos from iconic characters like Q*Bert, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Zangief. However, the film mostly centers on original video game characters, such as the personas in the candy-themed racing game Sugar Rush. Sarah Silverman voices Vanellope von Schweetz, a racer in Sugar Rush who is ostracized by the other racers in the game due to her tendency to glitch.

One of Vanellope's rivals in the game is Taffyta Muttonfudge, voiced by "The Office" alum Mindy Kaling, who would later also voice the character Disgust in "Inside Out." In "Wreck-It Ralph," however, her character is an antagonist towards Vanellope, destroying the kart she and Ralph built together, which causes Ralph to scare them away in Vanellope's defense. Kaling perfectly captured Taffyta's petty "Mean Girls" energy, but the voice actress's absence in the sequel, "Ralph Breaks the Internet," in 2018 may also be connected to her refusal to return to an upcoming "Inside Out" sequel over payment negotiations (via Vulture). 

While Mindy Kaling is absent from "Ralph Breaks the Internet," her character Taffyta has a much more minor role, this time voiced by Melissa Villaseñor. At the time, she was a cast member on "Saturday Night Live," and would later provide voiceover work for "Toy Story 4," which was released one year after "Ralph Breaks the Internet."

Slinky Dog in Toy Story 3

"Toy Story" was not only the first animated feature by Pixar Animation Studios, but it was also the first fully computer-animated film ever produced. The film focuses on a group of toys who belong to a little boy named Andy, and one of its most memorable characters is Slinky Dog. This lovable pup and confidante to Woody was voiced by Jim Varney, a comedian who became popular in the 1980s and 1990s with his character Ernest P. Worrell, first appearing in a series of commercials for products like Coca-Cola and later transitioning to a successful series of films

Varney reprised the role in "Toy Story 2," the 1999 sequel. Sadly, Jim Varney passed away in 2000 after a brief battle with lung cancer. By the time "Toy Story 3" was finally produced in 2010, Varney was replaced by Blake Clark, a comedian known for his appearances on "Home Improvement" and comedy films starring Adam Sandler.

Blake Clark has remained the voice of Slinky Dog in future releases, such as 2019's "Toy Story 4" and various video games. However, when castmate Don Rickles passed away before production of "Toy Story 4" began, the filmmakers opted instead to reproduce Rickles' performance via outtakes and unused lines from previous films rather than recast the role.

Nemo in Finding Dory

"Finding Nemo" is one of Pixar's most popular films, written and directed by Andrew Stanton. The 2005 film centers on a young fish named Nemo, voiced by Alexander Gould, who is captured by scuba divers, forcing his father and the forgetful Dory to go looking for him. Dory was voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, who for a long time after the film's release campaigned for a sequel centered on her character. Finally, in 2016, over 10 years after its predecessor, Pixar fulfilled DeGeneres' wish. 

However, producing the sequel to "Finding Nemo" 10 years later meant that Nemo's original actor wasn't able to reprise the role, since his voice had changed dramatically by then. Nemo was recast with Hayden Rolence, who also voiced the character in the 2015 video game "Disney Infinity 3.0." However, Alexander Gould wasn't left behind, as he returned to voice a delivery truck driver named Carl in "Finding Dory" in a nod to his previous role in the series. 

Interestingly enough, Gould wasn't the only voice actor to not return to "Finding Dory" from the first film. The voice of Squirt, the son of Crush, was voiced by Brad Bird's young son Nicholas in "Finding Nemo," but was replaced with Bennett Dammann for the sequel. While Pixar gets to capitalize on nostalgia by making sequels long after their original films, it does come at the cost of losing their initial child voice actors. 

Dash in The Incredibles 2

Speaking of Pixar films that took forever to get a sequel, "The Incredibles 2" was released in 2018, a whopping 14 years after the first film, which ended on a cliffhanger pitting The Incredibles against a supervillain known as the Underminer. The sequel picks up where the previous film left off, opening with an action scene that lands the superhero family in more trouble than they anticipated.

Given that "The Incredibles 2" ends up taking place shortly after the events of the first film, it stands to reason that the original child actors have aged out of their roles. While Sarah Vowell reprises her role as teenage daughter Violet, the role of mischievous 10-year-old Dash is recast with Huckleberry Milner, replacing Spencer Fox, who played the original role when he was 11 years old.

Fox's career is still going strong, though. He has been the guitarist for indie pop band Charly Bliss since they formed in 2011, releasing two full-length albums together. They've opened for groups such as Sleater-Kinney and Bleachers in recent years, though Fox still reflects on his voice acting past, likening the interest in "The Incredibles" that still follows him to "talking about a choir recital that you did when you were 12," (via Track Record).

Woody outside the Toy Story movies

Fortunately, Pixar hasn't needed to recast one of their most popular characters, Sheriff Woody of the "Toy Story" franchise. The role has been voiced by Tom Hanks since the first film in 1995, fresh off of Hanks winning consecutive Oscars for his performances in "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump." Nevertheless, Hanks has quite a busy schedule as a thriving actor, meaning he has been unable to reprise his role as Woody in media outside the main "Toy Story" film franchise.

However, Hanks' replacement is none other than his younger brother, Jim Hanks, who has provided the voice for Woody in "Toy Story" merchandise, including toys, video games, and spin-offs. For instance, Jim Hanks voices Woody in the opening sequence of "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command," a direct-to-video spin-off cartoon set in the universe of Tim Allen's Buzz Lightyear character. Jim Hanks also voiced Woody in "Lamp Life," a 2020 short film released on Disney+ following the adventures of Bo Peep between "Toy Story 2" and "Toy Story 4." 

Talk show host Graham Norton had assumed this fact was an urban myth, until he had Tom Hanks on his show, who confirmed that Jim is the voice of Woody outside the films, under his recommendation. 

Rumpelstiltskin in Shrek Forever After

It's been a long time since a "Shrek" movie hit theaters, although the last time it happened, it was quite memorable. "Shrek Forever After" was the fourth installment in the "Shrek" franchise, where Shrek signs a contract with the mischievous Rumpelstiltskin to be a real ogre again for a day, which has disastrous consequences for him and his friends. Rumpelstiltskin was voiced by Walt Dohrn, who previously played several minor characters in its predecessor, "Shrek the Third."

One character Dohrn did not voice in "Shrek the Third," however, was Rumpelstiltskin himself. The fairy tale character appears after Prince Charming recruits him in his crusade against the land of Far Far Away. In that film, Rumpelstiltskin was voiced by Conrad Vernon, who also voiced the Gingerbread Man throughout the "Shrek" franchise, landing the role of Gingy while working as a storyboard artist on the first "Shrek" movie (via Polygon).

Things went similarly for Walt Dohrn landing the role of Rumpelstiltskin in "Shrek Forever After." As the Head of Story at Dreamworks Animation, Dohrn performed voices for all the characters during storyboard meetings, which eventually resulted in him creating the voice for Rumpelstiltskin. Since studio executives had gotten used to it, he was kept on the cast as the official voice of the film's antagonist, earning the animator a high billing in the fourth installment of Dreamworks' biggest franchise. 

Li Shan in Kung Fu Panda 3

Apart from the "Shrek" franchise, "Kung Fu Panda" is one of Dreamworks' most popular and successful film series to date. The first two films center on Po, a panda voiced by Jack Black who is unwittingly named the chosen one by a squad of anthropomorphic kung fu champions known as the Furious Five. The films are as action-packed as they are emotional, as Black's portrayal of Po easily won over audiences and made the character an instant classic in Dreamworks' filmography.

It's this connection to Po that makes the twist ending at the end of "Kung Fu Panda 2" so meaningful. Although Po believed he was the last of the pandas, it's revealed to the audience that Po's family is alive and living in a community full of pandas. During that cliffhanger scene, Po's father, Li Shan, was voiced by Fred Tatasciore, whose voice acting credits include video games like "Overwatch" and "Destiny," as well as shows like "Family Guy, "Ben 10," and "Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers."

Li Shan plays a significant role in the third installment of the "Kung Fu Panda" series, "Kung Fu Panda 3." However, Fred Tatasciore no longer voices the character, who is instead played by Bryan Cranston. Cranston and Black play a dynamic father-son duo in the film, while Tatasciore remained in the cast voicing Master Bear, a kung fu master outside the Furious Five. 

Earl Devereaux in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have made quite the name for themselves in the world of animated movies with projects like "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" and "The Lego Movie," but it all began with their adaptation of the 1978 children's book, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." The animated film, released in 2009, centers on Bill Hader's Flint Lockwood, an amateur inventor whose machine to turn water into food results in a town nourished with food-related weather of increasing severity.

One of the residents in Flint's island town of Swallow Falls is police officer Earl Devereaux, voiced by none other than Mr. T. The character later returned in the film's 2013 sequel, though unlike the rest of the cast, Mr. T did not return. Instead, Earl Devereaux was voiced by actor Terry Crews. Ironically, the movie happened to hit theaters around the same time as the television premiere of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," an NBC sitcom starring Terry Crews and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" co-star Andy Samberg as police officers. 

Fortunately for fans of the "Cloudy" movies, Terry Crews did not take the opportunity of replacing Mr. T lightly. In an interview with Spinoff Online, Crews even confirmed that he received the "Rocky III" star's blessing for his interpretation of Earl Devereaux. Suffice it to say, Terry Crews was the best replacement Lord & Miller could've secured for a role originated by the incomparable Mr. T. 

Elliot and Boog in Open Season 2

"Open Season" is an underrated 2006 animated movie from Sony Pictures Animation. It features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher as Boog the bear and Elliot the deer, respectively, who become unlikely partners teaming up to fight back against animal hunters. The film was a success at the box office, prompting Sony to develop three sequels to the film, all released direct-to-video.

Surprisingly, not one of these sequels features the same pair of voice actors portraying the franchise's two leads. In the sequel, "Open Season 2," Lawrence and Kutcher were replaced by comedians Mike Epps and Joel McHale, whose performances still earned the film positive reviews. "Open Season 3" was released four years after the original film, starring Matthew J. Munn and Maddie Taylor as Boog and Elliot, respectively. Despite a successful theatrical release in Russia, the circus-centric third installment was subject to the worst reviews of the film series yet

The fourth and final "Open Season" film, titled "Open Season: Scared Silly," attempted to recapture the magic of the first film by ignoring the events of the second and third films. What they couldn't recapture was the same voice cast, now recruiting Donny Lucas and Will Townsend as Boog and Elliot. Although "Open Season: Scared Silly" was successful at garnering better reviews than the previous two entries, the series' lack of a consistent voice cast has hampered its ability to build a franchise. 

Dracula in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

The "Hotel Transylvania" film franchise has become a rare non-Disney animated hit. That's likely due to the talent behind it; the first two films were co-written by Robert Smigel, the comedic writer behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the "TV Funhouse" animated shorts on "Saturday Night Live." It also supported a strong voice cast, with Adam Sandler as Dracula, Selena Gomez playing his daughter Mavis, and Andy Samberg voicing her human love interest, Johnny. 

Nevertheless, the films haven't been immune to recastings. Although musician CeeLo Green voiced Murray the mummy in the first film, he was arrested for furnishing an illegal substance and was accused of sexual assault, developments that likely resulted in his being recast for the second installment, as Keegan-Michael Key took over the role (via Rolling Stone). However, the most recent installment, "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania," released on Amazon Prime Video in 2022, featured the franchise's most significant recasting yet. Adam Sandler, who had led the franchise and even co-written its second installment with Smigel, did not return to the role of Dracula. 

Instead, the role of Dracula was voiced by Brian Hull, who has previously done voicework for children's animation. Alongside Sandler, Kevin James also didn't return to the fourth film as the voice of Frankenstein, though the reasoning for their lack of involvement is still unclear (via IGN). Nevertheless, Gomez and Samberg remained on board, providing enough star power for the digitally exclusive entry in the franchise. Perhaps if the series returns to theaters, Sandler and James will reprise their roles. 

Max in The Secret Life of Pets 2

"The Secret Life of Pets" was released in 2016 by Illumination Entertainment, the studio best known for creating the "Despicable Me" franchise. The film became the sixth highest-grossing film of the year, garnering comparisons to "Toy Story" for its take on domesticated animals' interior lives. It featured an all-star voice cast, including Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, and Hannibal Buress. However, one of its voice actors (and arguably its most important) wouldn't return for future installments.

That voice actor was none other than Louis C.K., who at the time of the first film's release was regarded as one of the greatest working stand-up comedians. Nevertheless, C.K.'s star fell quickly when the comedian was accused of sexual misconduct by several women via The New York Times, after which he subsequently admitted wrongdoing. While Louis C.K.'s stand-up career hasn't taken the hit one might expect as a result of the controversy (he's just received his second consecutive Grammy nomination for 2023, after winning in 2022), it marked the end of his time leading a children's animated franchise.

Fortunately, Illumination found the perfect replacement in Patton Oswalt. The controversy-free comedian is a voice acting veteran, voicing Remy in "Ratatouille," as well as the Marvel villain M.O.D.O.K. in the 2021 Hulu series of the same name. Although Oswalt had hesitations about taking over the role from C.K. after such a public fallout, he nevertheless signed on out of love for the first film (via IGN). 

Multiple MCU actors in What If...?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been notable for bringing together some of Hollywood's greatest actors, from cinema royalty like Robert Redford and Angela Bassett to newfound stars like Zendaya and Chadwick Boseman. It's a spectacle when they're all gathered together for projects like "Captain America: Civil War," or "Avengers: Endgame," which capped off the MCU's third phase. However, the MCU didn't make its first foray into animation until its fourth phase.

The Disney+ series "What If...?," based on the comic book anthology series, takes a look at alternate timelines within the MCU, featuring familiar characters wrapped up in unfamiliar adventures. For example, the second episode finds T'Challa assuming the role of Star-Lord in the Guardians of the Galaxy, while another sees what would've happened if Tony Stark was rescued from terrorists by Killmonger during the events of the first "Iron Man." While many MCU veterans return to voice their live-action characters in the series, some did not survive the transition to animation. 

In one episode examining Marvel heroes surviving a zombie apocalypse, Tom Holland is replaced by Hudson Thames as the voice of Peter Parker. Similarly, actors like Brie Larson, Chris Evans, and Robert Downey Jr. do not their reprise their roles in the animated series, replaced by Alexandra Daniels, Josh Keaton, and Mick Wingert, respectively. One surprising recasting is Lake Bell as Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, as Bell also makes a live-action appearance in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."