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Characters You Didn't Realize Had The Same Voice Actor

Voice actors don't often get the same respect that live-action stars do. After all, how hard can it be to sit in a recording booth and do silly voices all day? You can even show up to work in your pajamas!

But really, the gig is incredibly hard. Voice actors may rarely get to be celebrities, but the best of them have a range that would make even Meryl Streep's head spin. If you don't know their names, you still know their work, and once you get digging into an actor's credits, you start to see them pop up in some unexpected places. 

Many cartoon shows can get a cast of thousands out of no more actors than you can fit in a booth together. And the best of these voice artists can play anyone — young or old, hero or villain, serious or cartoony — so well that it may shock you to learn that the same voice is coming out of two different mouths. From iconic animals to animated candy, these are the cartoon characters you didn't realize had the same voice actors.

Mel Blanc played Bugs Bunny and Barney Rubble

If you talk about voice acting, and especially if you talk about versatility in the profession, you've got to talk about Mel Blanc. He was the first superstar in the field, thanks in no small part to a special deal he struck with Warner Brothers that made him the first voice actor to get his name — and his name alone — in the credits for all the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. However, he wasn't the only one voicing these beloved characters. For instance, Arthur Q. Bryant played Elmer Fudd, and moonlight sound effects man Treg Brown played the Road Runner

Nevertheless, Blanc was the dominant voice of the series, as he played nearly everyone else and defined some of the most iconic personalities in animation history in the process, from the fast-talking, superhumanly smooth Bugs Bunny to stuttering everyman Porky Pig. However, Blanc is less famous for his contributions outside the Warners' lot, but there are plenty of them, and odds are you've heard some of it before. 

He put in a lot of work for the cartoon hit factory at Hanna-Barbera, including a modified Bugs voice for Secret Squirrel and the hollering of Captain Caveman. And he voiced another true icon as the original Barney Rubble on The Flintstones. Hanna-Barbera modeled their modern Stone Age family on the then-popular sitcom The Honeymooners and contracted Blanc to do his own version of Art Carney's character, Ed Norton. But Blanc insisted he didn't do impressions, so he made Barney Rubble his own, with a voice that other stars continue to imitate in new Flintstones projects.

June Foray played Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Fatale

Mel Blanc may have played most of Looney Tunes' male characters, but acting across genders was too much even for him. That means the women, including Witch Hazel and Tweety Bird's Granny, were played by June Foray. And that's just the beginning of a long career that continued with appearances in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, DuckTales, and 1998's Mulan.

But if you want to see just how versatile Foray was, you don't need to look across all of her projects. In The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, she proved she could do two incredibly different voices at once, playing both a high-voiced little boy (or squirrel) and a husky-voiced older woman. This classic cartoon chronicled the adventures of Foray's Rocky the Flying Squirrel and his friend, Bullwinkle the Moose (Bill Scott). They crossed the globe fighting two spies from the faux-Soviet nation of Pottsylvania, Boris Badenov (Paul Frees) and Natasha Fatale, who was also played by Foray. But tell any kid watching the show that the same woman read both sides of any conversation between Rocky and Natasha, and they'd probably look at you like you'd grown another head.

Billy Bletcher played the Big Bad Wolf and the Munchkins

They'd already found huge success with the early Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies shorts, but Disney became a bona fide major player in Hollywood with the blockbuster success of The Three Little Pigs. No small part of the credit for that should go to Billy Bletcher, whose booming, menacing voice as the Big Bad Wolf made sure that, whatever the song said, every kid in the audience was afraid of him. Bletcher brought that same distinctive voice to Mickey Mouse's enemies, Peg-Leg Pete and the Mad Doctor, as well as Pa Bear in Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears and literally hundreds of others characters.

When we think of voice work, we generally think of animation, but live-action calls for voice actors pretty frequently, too. One of the greatest classics of the 1930s, The Wizard of Oz drew on Bletcher's talents, along with fellow Disney voice actor Pinto Colvig (the voice of Goofy and Snow White's Grumpy) to dub over some of the vocals in Oz's show-stopping performance of "Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead." You'd be forgiven for not recognizing Bletcher here, since his deep baritone has been sped up until it sounds like something closer to a soprano.

Peter Cullen plays Eeyore and Optimus Prime

All these roles show a lot of range, but could any one actor play both the heroic leader of an army of superpowered robots and a mopey cartoon donkey? Well, Peter Cullen could, and he did. He's voiced nearly every incarnation of Transformers' Optimus Prime since the original TV series in 1984. Even in the live-action movies, where Optimus' nemesis, Megatron, got the star treatment from The Matrix's Hugo Weaving, no one but Cullen could play the role.

Around the same time he took the reins of the Autobots, Cullen assumed the role of Winnie the Pooh's friend Eeyore from Disney animator Ralph Wright for the New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh TV series. While other actors have occasionally stepped in, including Pixar/Sesame Street animator Bud Luckey in the 2011 Winnie the Pooh movie and Everybody Loves Raymond star Brad Garrett in the live-action Christopher Robin, Cullen still keeps his Eeyore voice in tune, playing the stuffed donkey as recently as a 2017 crossover with Doc McStuffins.

Christine Cavanaugh played Dexter and Babe

The classic Babe movies star an adorable little pig who's so full of innate goodness that, just by his presence, he transforms the harsh environments of the farm he grew up on and the city where he's stranded in the sequel, Babe: Pig in the City. In other words, those films are as far as you can get from Dexter's Laboratory, a series about an egotistical, maladjusted little boy genius with an inexplicable Germanic accent who causes mayhem and destruction with his strange inventions. 

But both characters come from the same source. Like most children in the world of voice acting, they're played by an adult woman, Christine Cavanaugh. But who knows, maybe a meeting with Babe would've convinced Dexter to mend his ways. Some of Cavanaugh's other credits include Darkwing Duck's niece, Gosalyn Waddlemeyer, Marty Sherman in The Critic, Oblina of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters!, Bunnie Rabbot in Sonic the Hedgehog, and Chuckie on Rugrats, along with occasional on-camera appearances in projects like Jerry Maguire and an episode of The X-Files.

Nancy Cartwright plays Bart Simpson and Rufus the naked mole rat

The voice cast is an undervalued part of The Simpsons' success, and few actors have carried more weight than Nancy Cartwright. Bart could've easily just been a one-note brat, but Cartwright gave him a fragile, believable soul. While she's not as prolific as some of her castmates, Cartwright is still responsible for a good portion of the Springfield population, including clueless Ralph Wiggum, Rod and Todd Flanders, and school bullies Nelson Muntz and Kearney. She's carved out a niche playing kids in other shows, as well, including Goof Troop, Animaniacs, and Rugrats, where she took over the role of Chuckie after Christine Cavanaugh's death in 2014.

One of Cartwright's roles, though, is a lot further removed from what you'd expect based on The Simpsons. In fact, it can be hard to think of it as voice acting since it doesn't involve any intelligible words at all. In Kim Possible, Cartwright appears as Ron Stoppable's pet naked mole rat, Rufus. Even though he can't talk, Rufus still manages to make himself understood through all his little squeaks and grunts, and he may actually be a more useful sidekick for Kim than his accident-prone owner.

Grandpa Simpson and Grandpa Phil are both Dan Castellaneta

The Simpsons has built one of the biggest supporting casts in cartoon history, with apparently every citizen of Springfield appearing at one time or another alongside hundreds of famous characters, both real and fictional. And they've managed to do that with just a bare handful of voices. Almost all those characters are played by either Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, or Dan Castellaneta. Along with playing The Simpsons' patriarch, Homer, Castellaneta also stars as — just for starters — Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, Sideshow Mel, Mayor Quimby, Hans Moleman, and Grampa Simpson. 

It's impressive enough that a young man can play an old man. It would be even more impressive if he could do it again without sounding at all like Grampa Simpson. And that's exactly what Castellaneta did when he took on the role of Grandpa Phil on Hey Arnold!, and you probably never would've guessed it if someone hadn't told you (we know we didn't). And even more impressive than that, Castellaneta is able to play those old men as young men while still keeping them recognizable in a series of flashback sequences, including one memorable moment where Grandpa Phil beats the snot out of Adolf Hitler. (Grampa Simpson, meanwhile, infiltrated the Fuhrer's inner circle by disguising as a cabaret dancer.)

Russi Taylor played Minnie Mouse and Martin Prince

The Simpsons was revolutionary when it debuted in 1989. Offering up a dose of sharp, cynical wit to a primarily adult audience, it proved that not all animation had to follow the Disney model. But that hasn't stopped The Simpsons cast from sharing some talent with their competitors at the Mouse House, including the voice of one of Disney's oldest characters.

Russi Taylor first took up the Minnie Mouse mantle for the Disney Channel movie Doggone Valentine in 1987, joining her real-life husband, Wayne Allwine, who'd been playing Mickey ever since he joined The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1977. Taylor inherited several other classic Disney roles over the course of the career, most prominently with a starring role as Huey, Dewey, and Louie in the original DuckTales.

At the same time, she also joined the cast of The Simpsons as Martin Prince, the extravagantly nerdy teacher's pet at Springfield Elementary. She also played portly foreign exchange student Uter, as well as Bart and Lisa's twin tormentors, Sherri and Terri. On top of all that, she was also the Great Gonzo on Muppet Babies. But her most important jobs were always Minnie and Martin, who she continued to play all the way up to her death in 2019.

Ron Perlman plays the Lich and Mr. Lancer

Ron Perlman's distinctive jawline and 5'11" frame have typecast him playing monsters (Beauty and the Beast), tough guys (Sons of Anarchy), both (Hellboy), or a literal caveman (Quest for Fire). But in animation, he can be anyone he wants to be, and he's proven he's more than up to it. He returned to his Hellboy role in a series of animated movies and other characters like Tangled's Stabbington brothers that fit his usual typecasting. But he's also terrified at least two consecutive generations of children as underhanded villains who rely more on subtle, whispered menace than imposing physicality, with Slade on Teen Titans and the Lich in Adventure Time.

Both of these characters are deadly serious threats no matter how wacky their surroundings get, but Perlman has also shown he can get goofy himself in an almost unrecognizable role in Danny Phantom. This turn-of-the-century Nickelodeon series follows a teenager who returns from a dimension of ghosts with superpowers and finds himself fighting other escapees from the same parallel world. Perlman, far from his usual bad guys and badasses, plays Danny's dorky vice principal, Mr. Lancer, trading his usual quips for nonsensical exclamations like "Moby Dick!" or "Gulliver's Travels!" A lot of teachers claim to swear by the classics, but we guess this one really does.

Tom Kenny plays SpongeBob and the Ice King

Tom Kenny rose to fame in live action on the cult Mr. Show sketch comedy series, but he found his true calling as a voice artist. It's certainly hard to imagine any actor who wouldn't kill for a role like SpongeBob SquarePants, one of the most recognizable characters in the world, and one that's probably netted Kenny millions, if not billions, in royalties.

SpongeBob is such a lovable, cheerful, good-hearted character that it's easy to see how he's become so popular. You couldn't say the same about the bitter, lonely, frequently psychotic Ice King who Kenny plays on Adventure Time. But that hasn't stopped the actor from giving at least as brilliant a performance on that series, and he's even gotten to show off his dramatic chops with the season 2 reveal of the Ice King's past life as an ordinary man named Simon Petrikov. And that's just the tip of the iceberg (heh) as far as Kenny's range, which also encompasses SponegBob's pet snail, Gary, the narrator and mayor in The Powerpuff Girls, Rabbit in the Winnie the Pooh movie, the dog half of Catdog, and a frighteningly intense, self-loathing take on Dr. Octopus for Ultimate Spider-Man.

Billy West is half the cast of Futurama

Futurama creates a whole 31st-century world full of bizarre characters, but you might be surprised to find out how many of them came from one man's voice. Billy West stars as Philip J. Fry, a delivery boy who gets locked in a cryogenic tank on New Years' Eve, 1999. He also stars as Fry's distant descendant, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, the owner of Planet Express. And then there's the preserved head of Richard Nixon, the incompetent Dr. John Zoidberg, and Zapp Brannigan, the even more incompetent but far more self-assured general for the Democratic Order of Planets. 

Zapp was actually written for Phil Hartman, star of Saturday Night Live and NewsRadio and frequent guest star on The Simpsons, before his untimely death forced West into the role. But West did a remarkable job recreating what Hartman's performance might've sounded like, and he's said that he drew inspiration for their mutual love of what he calls "big, dumb announcers." West also plays all kinds of minor characters, including an unexpectedly moving performance as God himself in "Godfellas."

Futurama is the best example of West's range, but it's just a small part of his long career, which includes playing Stimpy on Ren and Stimpy (you can actually hear bits of that voice creeping into Fry and Farnsworth in the early episodes of Futurama). He also starred in Doug and played Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny in Space Jam and rapped verses written by a young Jay-Z for the soundtrack album.

Phil LaMarr plays Samurai Jack and Hermes Conrad

Phil LaMarr stars in Futurama as Hermes Conrad, a Jamaican accountant who defies all the usual laid-back stereotypes with his uptight attitude. Hermes' seriousness can be very funny, but that's not so true for the stoic Samurai Jack, whose rare spoken words were also provided by LaMarr. This unflappable feudal warrior has been lost in the distant future in his quest to destroy Aku, the shape-shifting master of darkness, and return to his own time. The creators of Futurama had a little fun with LaMarr's warrior role in their "Reincarnation" episode, which featured three parodies of other genres, including an anime adventure where Hermes transforms into a samurai.

You may have also heard LaMarr as Wilt in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, the Green Lantern in Justice League, Dracula in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, and the title role in Static Shock. You won't see his face on camera often, but the moment where John Travolta accidentally blows it to bits in Pulp Fiction is one of the most memorable in LaMarr's long and varied career.

J.K. Simmons plays the yellow M&M and J. Jonah Jameson

J.K. Simmons has built a reputation as one of the movies' greatest hard-asses, both in live-action and animation. For example, he won an Oscar for his downright terrifying performance as a pathologically demanding music teacher in Whiplash. But most of us probably remember him best as J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker's blowhard boss in the Spider-Man movies, a role he's returned to in animated Spider-Man, Hulk, and Avengers series, as well as Robot Chicken and The Simpsons

Additionally, Simmons has taken plenty of voice roles, and most of them fit into the same persona — the bovine warlord Kai in Kung Fu Panda 3, a very un-jolly St. Nick in Klaus, Omni-Man in Invincible, Mayor Lionheart in Zootopia, Tenzin in The Legend of Korra, and many others. But there's one odd man out in his credits, so much so that even when you know it's him, it's still kind of hard to believe it. As a young actor in 1996, Simmons got a job playing the goofy yellow M&M opposite Billy West as the red one in the brand's commercials. Apparently, he hasn't let fame make him forget where he came from because he's still appearing in those commercials to this day. Just for fun sometime, try imagining the yellow M&M reading lines from Simmons' other characters and vice versa.