My Transformers Voice Actor Five

I haven't seen Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen yet, but rumor has it that even more of the voice actors from the original series will be lending their vocal talents to the film. Because I'm in such a Transformers mindset right now and probably will be stuck like this for a while, I'm going to take a look back at my five favorites from the ‘80s cartoon:

5) Scatman Crothers:
This legendary multitalented actor and musician loaned his distinctive chords to Jazz, appropriately enough. While older folks might recall his role in The Shining and children of the ‘70s remember him as Hong Kong Phooey, for ‘80s brats like myself he'll always be that smooth Autobot with the built-in shades and sweet Porsche mode. Crothers passed away in 1986, making The Transformers: The Movie one of his final roles. In the 2007 film, Jazz was voiced by Darius McCrary, of Family Matters fame.

4) Chris Latta:
Chris Latta died at the too young age of 44 in 1994, but his legacy as the traitorous Decepticon lieutenant Starscream. Starscream felt he should lead the Decepticons, and despite being almost completely unqualified, he barely hid his contempt for Megatron. Every syllable dripped with sarcasm when he wasn’t sniveling, and Latta fit the role perfectly. I don't think fans even minded that he used the same voice for his other famous role as Cobra Commander, with extended “S” syllables replacing the electronic distortion of his robot character. On Transformers, he also portrayed Wheeljack, an Autobot known for his experiments and good nature, and Sparkplug, one of the Autobots' human allies. Later in his career he did some voice work for The Simpsons, and I don't doubt that we'd still be hearing him on cartoons if he were alive today.

3) Casey Kasem:
Yes, that is Casey Kasem the Top 40 radio DJ, but did you know he also had a career in animation? Shaggy is probably his most recognizable role, but on Transformers Kasem Cliffjumper, the hotheaded red robot whose gun fired a gas that turned metal to glass, and Bluesteak, named for his tendency to keep talking rather than for his hue. He also played a key role as Teletraan I, the Autobots computer which often warned them of Decepticon activity and basically provided exposition for the viewers. Kasem, of Lebanese descent, left the show in its third and final season, after taking offense at the stereotypical way some Middle Eastern terrorist characters from the fictional nation of “Carbombya” were portrayed.

2) Peter Cullen:
Cullen is an ‘80s icon, and it was his portrayal of Optimus Prime that forever landed him a place in the hearts of Transfans. Though he basically portrayed Prime as though John Wayne were a robot, he defined the character so well that he reprised his role for the live action film, the best and logical choice. Cullen also portrayed the gruff and tough Ironhide, a red van with a Southern drawl and a penchant for “bustin' Decepti-chops”. Outside of Transformers, I would say KARR is his most famous role, in stark contrast to the heroic characters he played.

1) Frank Welker:
Finally, we come to the living legend voice actor. I'm not even going to try and list his 1,200+ characters; you'll have to spend some time on his IMDB page for that. I can guarantee this; if you've ever watched cartoons, you've heard Welker. On Transformers he played the Decepticon leader Megatron, a role that went to Hugo Weaving for the 2007 motion picture. Of course, considering that Welker provided voices for 8 of the original 14 Decepticons, there's plenty of opportunities for him to appear in Revenge of the Fallen. I've read slight spoilers/rumors to this effect, that I'll neither divulge nor confirm for myself at this time. My favorite Transformers character of his, other than Megatron, was Soundwave, who had without question the coolest voice with vocoder distortion. I've tried to simulate the effect by talking into fans, but to this day I'm not certain how much of that voice was electronics and how much was Welker himself. I also enjoyed his portrayal of Rumble, one of Soundwave's cassette soldiers with a sneering Brooklyn accent and the power to shake things up by turning his arms into piledrivers.
Here's a clip from 2007 of Welker, with Cullen, talking about how their adversarial characters' voices came to be:

And here are some clips of Soundwave from the 1985 movie:



Blogger b13 said...

And within moments... the race card is pulled.


6/25/2009 9:44 AM  
Blogger b13 said...

Sorry, long link... here is a tiny url:


6/25/2009 9:45 AM  

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