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The Only Actor To Voice A Character In Every Pixar Movie

From the 1990s onward, Hollywood has seen the rise of a notable industry trend. Voice acting, traditionally the realm of specialized, hardworking professionals with little in the way of mainstream visibility, increasingly became a movie star's game. Between Robin Williams bringing down the house as the Genie in Aladdin, Meg Ryan leading the star-studded cast of Anastasia at her nineties peak, and the Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz power trio of Shrek, big budget animated cinema moved into the 21st century under the traditional live-action mandate to cast huge box office draws whenever possible.

Although Pixar played a large part in establishing that new normal by tapping the likes of Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal and Ellen DeGeneres as stars in its early years, the studio never settled for mere stunt casting. Among the many achievements that placed it at the vanguard of American CGI animation, Pixar has become notable for the thoughtfulness with which it answered to the industry demand for star power in voice acting, always going for talented and character-appropriate movie actors regardless of the extent to which they qualify as traditional A-listers.

Whether it's by shining a late spotlight on Old Hollywood veterans like Paul Newman and Peter O'Toole, introducing young audiences to respectable thespians like Holly Hunter and Phylicia Rashad, or giving underrated character actors like Phyllis Smith and Kelly Macdonald a chance to shine in tailor-made roles, you can always count on Pixar to put as much care into its casting as it does into its storytelling and animation. And there may be no better example of this than the one actor they've maintained a steady working relationship with for 26 years.

Actor John Ratzenberger is considered Pixar's "good luck charm"

Connecticut-born actor John Ratzenberger rose to prominence as one of the stars of the iconic eighties sitcom Cheers, in which he played know-it-all mail carrier Cliff Clavin. Even though he earned two Emmy nominations for the role, it's not exactly Cheers that news sites like HuffPost are referring to when they call Ratzenberger "the 6th most successful actor of all time." The reason John Ratzenberger's box office numbers are so enormous is that he's played a part in every single Pixar movie... with one notable exception, which we'll get to below.

Ratzenberger was originally among the glut of comedy performers hailing from TV and stand-up that Pixar's casting department favored in the studio's first few productions, along with Tim Allen, Dave Foley, Don Rickles, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Wallace Shawn, Madeline Kahn, Phyllis Diller and others. Following his work as the snarky Hamm in Toy Story, and then the unscrupulous circus ringmaster P.T. Flea in A Bug's Life, Ratzenberger began to be considered a "good luck charm" for Pixar (via Houston Chronicle), and the studio continued to bring him back for every one of its subsequent films.

John Ratzenberger has been with Pixar since the beginning

First, Ratzenberger returned as Hamm in Toy Story 2. Then, he had his most iconic part yet, as Monsters, Inc.'s existentially conflicted Abominable Snowman, which was followed up by a multitudinous role as an entire school of moonyfishes in Finding Nemo. The Incredibles saw him cameo in the third act and embrace villainy once again as the Underminer, but he quickly went back to playing hapless everymen with Cars' Mack the truck, and Ratatouille's Mustafa the waiter. WALL-E gave him a chance to exercise his dramatic chops opposite Kathy Najimy as John and Mary, the pair of humans who rediscover their humanity together over the course of the movie. From then on, Ratzenberger segued into a later era of minor Pixar roles, while continuing to reprise his roles in the Toy Story, Cars and Monsters franchises as they added on more and more movies. He had cameos as a construction worker in Up, a palace guard in Brave, a mind construction worker in Inside Out, a crab in Finding Dory, a velociraptor in The Good Dinosaur, a skeleton going through the Land of the Dead's customs area in Coco, and yet another construction worker in Onward.

The only Pixar film not to feature Ratzenberger's voice talent in any capacity is Soul. But even in that movie, Ratzenberger was such a vital element of Pixar's mythology that director Pete Docter and co-director Kemp Powers went to the trouble of including a background character designed after him, as Powers recently confirmed to Pixar Post.

John Ratzenberger is not the only actor to have had roles in multiple Pixar movies

John Ratzenberger has achieved notoriety for his status as a one-man Pixar house tradition. But he isn't the only performer to have been tapped by the studio multiple times. In addition to franchise stars like Tom Hanks and Owen Wilson, as well as the handful of animation staff members who routinely provide additional voices, several actors have also become legacy Pixar collaborators.

The most prominent among them is Bonnie Hunt, a severely underrated movie and TV actress who has appeared in eight Pixar films as a total of five characters, all of them memorable — Rosie the spider in A Bug's Life, Ms. Flint in Monsters, Inc., Sally in the three Cars films, Dolly in Toy Story 3 and 4, and Mike's elementary school teacher Karen Graves in Monsters University. In a 2010 behind-the-scenes Toy Story 3 interview, Hunt stated, "I've been so fortunate to do so many things in my career, but I can say that I'm the most proud of the association with Pixar, my favorite place to work. I'm just honored to be a part of it."

In addition to Hunt, another underrated character actor, Richard Kind, has racked up Pixar creds in four different roles over five movies, the most memorable of them being Bing Bong in Inside Out, a performance that won him widespread acclaim and several awards. Two actors primarily known for their TV comedy roles, Brad Garrett and Jeff Garlin, have voiced three Pixar characters each. And countless performers have returned to Pixar for second roles after highly successful first stints, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Keaton, and Bill Hader.