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Celebs you didn't know voiced your favorite cartoon characters

Some celebrities have become well known not just for the original talents that made them famous, but also for their side jobs—lending their voices to popular animated films and television shows. For example, you probably know that Mike Myers voiced the title character in all of the Shrek films, or that Star Wars leading man Mark Hamill has long provided voices to dozens of cartoon characters over the years—most famously as the Joker. However, some celebs have managed to fly under the radar with their voice acting skills—so you might be quite surprised to learn which of them have moonlighted as your favorite cartoon characters.

Tom Petty - Lucky (King of the Hill)

Following his sudden death on October 2, 2017 at age 66, fans around the world mourned the passing of rocker Tom Petty by sharing their favorite songs or performances from his time with Mudcrutch, the Heartbreakers, or the Traveling Wilburys. Presumably, relatively few of those fans realize that Petty also voiced a character on Mike Judge's long-running animated sitcom King of the Hill. In a 2009 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Judge revealed that producer John Altschuler had come up with an idea for a character called "Lucky"—which Judge described as "Tom Petty without the success."

In a stroke of genius, the showrunners decided to see if Petty himself would voice the part, and surprisingly, he agreed. "He was great, just killed at the table read," Judge explained. "Then he said, 'anytime you want me to do it, I'll do it.' Turns out he really meant it." Petty would go on to voice Lucky (who later married Luanne Platter) in 28 episodes over the show's run.

Carlos Alazraqui - Rocko (Rocko's Modern Life)

Long before he became famous for his role as Deputy Garcia on the Comedy Central mockumentary comedy series Reno 911!, Carlos Alazraqui made his living by providing voices to some of our favorite cartoons of the '90s—most notably both title character Rocko and his faithful dog Spunky in the Nickelodeon animated sitcom Rocko's Modern Life. For fans that grew up with the show, Rocko was a favorite for the slyly hidden adult humor and double entendres that the writers included in nearly every episode.

Since his time on Rocko, Alazraqui hasn't slowed down a bit. He's voiced characters in well over 100 different shows through the years, with more roles on the horizon. And if you've been longing for Rocko to return the airwaves, then you're definitely in luck—Nickelodeon has announced that Alazraqui and the rest of the original voice cast are reuniting for a new Rocko TV movie special, which will air in 2018.

Michael Cera - Brother Bear (The Berenstain Bears)

Michael Cera has made something of a career out of portraying awkward teenagers—with his role as George Michael Bluth on the sitcom Arrested Development or in coming-of-age films like Superbad and Juno. But long before he started slaving away at the Bluth's banana stand, Cera landed the part of Brother Bear in the PBS animated series The Berenstain Bears. While we won't get into the whole "Berenstein/Berenstain" debate, the show was based on the original children's books by Stan and Jan Berenstain, and ran for 62 episodes between 2003 and 2004.

In addition to his role as Brother Bear, Cera also provided the voices of other cartoon personalities; he played the young version of Uncle Gizmo on the Disney animated series Rolie Polie Olie, and piano prodigy Josh Spitz in the Disney cartoon Braceface from 2001 to 2004.    

James Avery - Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

You probably remember him best as the gruff softie Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with Will Smith, but James Avery also put in quite a bit of work in the recording studio over the years, voicing more than a dozen cartoon characters. You may have heard him before as James Rhodes/War Machine in the 1994 Marvel animated series Iron Man, or as Mr. Clapper in the Disney cartoon Pepper Ann.

Avery's longest-running (and most surprising) voice role is his portrayal of main antagonist Oroku "The Shredder" Saki in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. Avery played Shredder for the first seven seasons of the extremely popular show, voicing the villain in a total of 106 episodes from 1987 to 1993. Until his unexpected death in 2013, Avery continued acting and providing voiceover work—with his last credited voice role as Br'er Bear (from the controversial Disney movie Song of the South) in the 2011 video game Kinect Disneyland Adventures.

John Ritter - Clifford (Clifford the Big Red Dog)

Although most adults will think first of his roles on Three's Company or in the 1990 horror miniseries It, for '90s kids, John Ritter likely played an anonymous, but iconic role in their childhood as the voice of the title character on the popular PBS children's series Clifford the Big Red Dog. From 2000 until his untimely death from cardiac issues on September 11th, 2003, Ritter voiced the friendly and gigantic red canine in 64 episodes of the educational show—which followed Clifford's adventures on Birdwell Island with his doggie friends Cleo and T-Bone, and his doting eight-year-old owner Emily Elizabeth. Although Ritter passed in late 2003, he had already completed the voicework for Clifford's first feature film, Clifford's Really Big Movie, which was released in 2004 and dedicated to his memory.

LeVar Burton - Kwame (Captain Planet)

He will always be remembered for his best-loved roles as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, as Kunta Kinte in the award-winning 1977 miniseries Roots, or as the longtime host of the popular PBS children's series Reading Rainbow. But many LeVar Burton fans may not realize that he's also lent his voice talents to a number of animated shows throughout his career. Like James Avery, Burton has taken a turn as War Machine—voicing the character in a 2009 episode of The Super Hero Squad Show.

If you're a child of the '80s, Burton not only played a part in your childhood as Reading Rainbow's host, but also as the voice of Kwame in the classic cartoon series Captain Planet and the Planeteers (later called The New Adventures of Captain Planet.) Kwame was the leader of the Planeteers, a group of five teenagers from around the world called upon by Gaia to assist Captain Planet. Burton voiced Kwame for 113 episodes between 1990 and 1996, and continues his voice-acting career even today. Most recently, he provided the voice of Doc Greene in the Transformers: Rescue Bots cartoon from 2012-2016.

George Clooney - Dr. Gouache and Sparky the Dog (South Park)

While most people would associate George Clooney with his roles in ER, the Ocean's Eleven franchise, or his parts in hit films like O Brother, Where Art Thou? or Gravity, serious fans will tell you that the Academy Award-winning actor has also dabbled in voice-acting work before. He provided the voice of the title character in the 2009 stop-motion animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Clooney has also made a couple of appearances in the Comedy Central adult cartoon South Park. In the first season of the show, Clooney voiced "Sparky," Stan Marsh's beloved (and gay) canine companion. He later returned to the South Park world when he played a doctor (who replaces Kenny's heart with a baked potato) in the 1999 film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

Although his voice roles on the show were rather small overall, Clooney actually played a big part in the success of the series. According to South Park producer Anne Garefino, before the show was picked up by Comedy Central, an animated South Park short (really meant as a Christmas Card video greeting) had been floating around Hollywood for months—due in large part to Clooney's efforts. "George Clooney had made hundreds of VHS copies of 'The Spirit of Christmas' and sent them out to all his friends," Garefino explained. Before long, Comedy Central made an offer for the show, and the rest is history.

Will Ferrell - Bob Oblong (The Oblongs)

Funnyman Will Ferrell made a name for himself during his time as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 2002, and later for his leading roles in comedy films like Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Elf, and Step Brothers. But Ferrell has also stepped into the recording booth on a number of occasions, lending his voice to over a dozen animated characters over the years.

If you're a parent, you may have recognized Ferrell's voice behind the "Man With the Yellow Hat" in the 2006 Curious George movie. Ferrell also performed as the voice of the cheerful and deformed Bob Oblong in the satirical adult animated series The Oblongs, which follows the misadventures of a family living in a valley polluted by radiation and other toxic waste.  

Kelsey Grammer - Sideshow Bob (The Simpsons)

Six-time Emmy Award winner Kelsey Grammer is best known for his portrayal of the idiosyncratic psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the sitcom Cheers from 1984 to 1993, and later in the successful spinoff series Frasier from 1993 to 2004. What some people might not know is that Grammer is also a talented voice actor, and has used that gift to voice a number of animated characters throughout his career.

Most notably, Grammer has played the recurring antagonist and self-proclaimed genius Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons since 1990. In fact, one of Grammer's six Primetime Emmy Awards came from his role as Sideshow Bob, which he won in 2006 for his performance in The Simpsons' 364th episode, "The Italian Bob."

Katey Sagal - Turanga Leela (Futurama)

Katey Sagal became an American household name three decades ago through her role as the flame-haired and sarcastic Peggy Bundy during the 10-year run of the Fox sitcom Married…with Children. She also had a leading part as Cate Hennessy on 8 Simple Rules alongside John Ritter, and more recently as Gemma Teller Morrow on the popular FX crime drama series Sons of Anarchy. No doubt you've seen her in one or more of those shows—but you may not have realized that Sagal also provided the voice of a leading character in the other long-running Matt Groening animated series, Futurama.

Throughout the show's troubled stop-and-start run (first on Fox, and later on Cartoon Network), Sagal voiced the character of Planet Express captain Turanga Leela in 124 episodes and several direct-to-DVD movies between 1999 and 2013. For fans of the show disappointed by its cancellation, some good news: SyFy just acquired the rights to every episode of the series, which will debut in HD on the channel in November 2017. The Futurama cast also reunited in September 2017 for a new audio-only podcast episode of the series, designed to promote the mobile game Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow.

Tim Curry - Nigel Thornberry (The Wild Thornberries)

While he'll undoubtedly remain best known for his iconic roles as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the 1990 It miniseries, or as Wadsworth in Clue, stage and screen actor Tim Curry is also an extremely talented voiceover artist. Beginning in the late '80s and continuing throughout his storied career, Curry has voiced dozens of animated characters in various animated shows and films, most prominently lending a distinctive, nasally, and often incomprehensible English accent to the character of expert zoologist and naturalist Nigel Thornberry in Nickelodeon's The Wild Thornberries.

From 1998 to 2004, Curry voiced the cheerful dad in 90 episodes, a number of films, video games, and even a crossover appearance in the 2003 animated movie Rugrats Go Wild. His characterization of Nigel has spawned dozens of memes—mostly based on the character's trademark catchphrase, "Smashing!"—and there's even a whole gaming subgenre dedicated to recreating Nigel in their favorite video games. Despite suffering a stroke in 2012 that left him wheelchair bound, Curry still finds time for voice acting—most recently, he provided the voice of Darth Sidious/Chancellor Palpatine in the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series from 2012 to 2014.

Thomas Brodie Sangster - Ferb (Phineas and Ferb)

Fans of the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones probably recognize Thomas Brodie-Sangster as the actor who played supporting character Jojen Reed in seasons three and four of the hit television show. He's also known for his part as Newt in the Maze Runner film franchise, and for his portrayal of an adolescent Paul McCartney in the 2009 John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy.

What you may not know about this rising star is that Brodie-Sangster has also been a frequent voice performer in some of the most popular cartoons from recent years. From 2007 to 2015, he lent his natural English accent to the taciturn and intelligent character Ferb Fletcher in 129 episodes (and several films and other spinoffs) of Disney's Phineas and Ferb. More recently, Brodie-Sangster voiced the character of John Tracy on the popular British sci-fi animated series Thunderbirds Are Go.

Christian Bale - Howl (Howl's Moving Castle)

He's made a name for himself in films like American Psycho and the Dark Knight trilogy, and also for his occasionally extreme acting methods (like when he lost over 60 pounds for his part in The Machinist), but Christian Bale has also dipped his toes in the world of voice acting on more than one occasion.

In 1995, he provided the voice of supporting character Thomas in the Disney animated feature Pocahontas, alongside Mel Gibson in the role of John Smith. But fans of Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and his storied Studio Ghibli animation company could tell you that Bale's best voiceover role came in 2004, when he played the title character in the English dub of the beloved Ghibli film Howl's Moving Castle.  

Jaleel White - Sonic (Multiple Shows)

Whatever happened to Urkel? You probably remember the nerdy Steve Urkel and his squeaky-voiced trademark phrase, "Did I do that?" from the hit sitcom Family Matters. After the show ended in 1998, Jaleel White—who played Urkel for the entire run of the series—faded into relative obscurity for some time, only having a handful of screen appearances in other productions while he attended college at UCLA.

While he's returned to his acting career in recent years, many fans might not realize that Urkel wasn't White's only widely seen role. He was also the voice of the popular cartoon character Sonic the Hedgehog—which made a successful transition from video games to television in the early '90s. Over the years, White voiced Sonic in several animated TV shows, including Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog in 1993, Sonic the Hedgehog from 1993 to 1994, and in Sonic Underground in 1999. In addition to the title character, White also voiced Sonic's brother and sister, Manic and Sonia, in the short-lived Sonic Underground series.