Animated films are famous for their brilliant teams behind the scenes, including the unsung heroes of design, storyboarding, and the often overlooked voice actors who bring the characters to life. But every now and then, these films surprise us by adding A-list Hollywood stars to their voice casts, even though we might not immediately recognize them without seeing their faces. This trend is especially common in Disney and Pixar productions, where star-studded casts are the norm. However, there are also other animated films that boast equally impressive line-ups.
Movies like Titan A.E. and Space Chimps managed to catch the attention of some of Hollywood’s biggest names, who eagerly jumped at the chance to lend their voices to these animated heroes and villains. So, let’s dive deeper into the unexpectedly amazing casts that have graced these hidden gems of animated cinema.
Imagine a world where everyone is a robot. That’s the basic premise of the 2005 film Robots. In this story, a young inventor named Rodney Copperbottom sets out for Robot City to meet his idol, Bigweld, at Bigweld Industries. Rodney wants to showcase his new creation. However, upon his arrival, Rodney discovers that Bigweld is nowhere to be found, and the robo-suits have taken over.
Robots boasts an exceptional voice cast, with Ewan McGregor lending his voice to Rodney. He is joined by the talented Halle Berry, Robin Williams, Mel Brooks, Greg Kinnear, Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey, and the legendary James Earl Jones. Notably, even the smaller roles in the film are filled by well-known names such as Stanley Tucci, Dianne Wiest, Jennifer Coolidge, Jay Leno, Paula Abdul, Al Roker, and Natasha Lyonne.
Directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo is a heartwarming tale about a goldfish that washes ashore and gets a helping hand from a boy named Sōsuke. Their bond grows stronger, and Sōsuke names the goldfish Ponyo. But what makes this story even more magical is Ponyo’s dream of becoming a human girl, which she accomplishes through a touch of enchantment.
The English version of Ponyo features an impressive voice cast. Noah Cyrus lends her voice to the titular character, while Frankie Jonas brings Sōsuke to life. And that’s not all! The cast also includes renowned names like Liam Neeson, Tina Fey, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Cloris Leachman, and Betty White.
3. The Little Prince
The Little Prince, released in 2015, might not have received as much attention as other animated films of the 2010s, but it is a truly captivating and imaginative story that definitely deserves recognition. This enchanting adaptation of the beloved novella revolves around a young girl who, after listening to tales about a little prince residing on an asteroid from her elderly aviator neighbor, rediscovers the magic of childhood.
One remarkable aspect of the film is its star-studded voice cast, filled with incredibly talented and well-known actors. Mackenzie Foy takes on the lead role, while Jeff Bridges lends his vocal talents to the Aviator character. The rest of the cast includes esteemed names such as Paul Rudd, Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Benecio del Toro, Marion Cotillard, Paul Giamatti, and Ricky Gervais.
4. Titan A.E.
The 2000 sci-fi film Titan A.E. has managed to gather a dedicated fanbase over the years. One of the reasons for this is its distinctive combination of 2D hand-drawn animation and 3D computer-generated animation. The story takes place in the future, where Earth is under attack by an alien race known as the Drej who have one goal: to annihilate humanity.
Amidst the chaos, a young survivor named Cale Tucker sets off on a thrilling quest alongside a diverse group of newfound friends. Their mission is to locate a powerful spaceship called the Titan, which has the incredible ability to create a brand new home planet for humans.
The main character, Cale, is voiced by the talented Matt Damon. And he is not alone in this stellar cast. Joining him are renowned actors such as John Leguizamo, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo, Drew Barrymore, Ron Perlman, and Bill Pullman, all bringing their unique talent to the supporting roles.
It goes without saying that this intergalactic adventure is packed with star power, making it an even more captivating experience for fans and newcomers alike.
5. The Tale of Despereaux
The Tale of Despereaux, based on Kate DiCamillo’s novel from 2003, tells the story of a courageous mouse named Despereaux who stands out among his fellow rodents due to his big ears and insatiable curiosity. Despereaux’s adventures take place in a grand castle where he lives, where he becomes captivated by the human Princess Pea and dedicates himself to helping her. Despite his small and fluffy appearance, Despereaux proves to possess an extraordinary amount of heart.
Narrated by Sigourney Weaver, the film features the voice of Matthew Broderick as Despereaux, bringing the character to life. Emma Watson takes on the role of Princess Pea, while Dustin Hoffman portrays Despereaux’s rat companion, Roscuro. The talented cast also includes Tracey Ullman, Robbie Coltrane, William H. Macy, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Frances Conroy, and Christopher Lloyd.
Igor is a charming horror-comedy that explores what happens when a sidekick takes center stage. In this delightful film, the hunchbacked Igor, who serves as a humble scientist’s assistant, dares to dream of becoming a brilliant evil scientist himself. Along his journey, he discovers that he doesn’t have to be evil to showcase his brilliance.
Released in 2008, this movie boasts an impressive ensemble of Hollywood talent. John Cusack lends his voice to the character of Igor, joined by a stellar cast including Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, Eddie Izzard, Sean Hayes, Jay Leno, Jennifer Coolidge, Christian Slater, John Cleese, and Arsenio Hall.
7. Gnomeo & Juliet
2011’s Gnomeo & Juliet is a playful twist on the classic Shakespearean tale of forbidden love and feuding families. This time, the story unfolds between two garden gnomes who find themselves on opposite sides of a fence. The film brings tenderness, humor, and a much happier ending compared to Shakespeare’s version.
To bring this whimsical adaptation to life, the movie boasts an impressive ensemble cast. James McAvoy lends his voice to the character of Gnomeo, while Emily Blunt voices Juliet. The film also features the talents of renowned actors such as Michael Caine, Jason Statham, Maggie Smith, Ozzy Osbourne, Dolly Parton, Hulk Hogan, and even Sir Patrick Stewart, who brings the statue of Shakespeare to life with his voice.
8. The Ant Bully
The Ant Bully is a completely different movie from Antz, in case you were wondering. It revolves around a young boy named Lucas Nickle who takes out his frustrations on an ant colony. Things take a magical turn when an ant sorcerer shrinks Lucas down to their size as a way of getting revenge. This unexpected twist teaches Lucas an important lesson about empathy as he befriends the ants. Together, they join forces to stop an exterminator from destroying their home.
The main character, Lucas, is voiced by Zack Tyler Eisen, best known for his role as Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The supporting cast is packed with Hollywood talent, including Nicolas Cage as the ant wizard Zoc, and voices by Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Regina King, Lily Tomlin, and Paul Giamatti.
9. Osmosis Jones
Osmosis Jones is a cool movie that blends live-action and animation. The Farrelly brothers and Piet Kroon and Tom Sito each directed different parts of this 2001 film. It gives us a peek into what goes on inside a person’s body, where a white blood cell named Osmosis “Ozzie” Jones teams up with a cold pill called Special Agent Drixenol “Drix” Drixobenzometaphedramine to save the human Frank from a dangerous virus.
You’ll easily recognize Bill Murray playing Frank in the real-life scenes, but the voices behind the animated characters are pretty amazing too. Chris Rock voices the main character, Ozzie, while David Hyde Pierce brings his buddy Drix to life. Laurence Fishburne, Brandy Norwood, Ron Howard, and William Shatner also lend their voices to various organisms and cells inside Frank’s body.
10. Space Chimps
The 2008 movie, Space Chimps, is exactly what the title suggests: a tale about chimpanzees in space. The main character, Ham III, is the grandson of the very first chimp to venture into space. Alongside his primate companions, Ham III embarks on a space mission to retrieve a lost probe. Their journey takes them to an enigmatic planet called Malgor, where they must confront an alien tyrant before finding their way back home.
The casting choices for Space Chimps were no laughing matter. Andy Samberg lends his voice to the character of Ham III, while Cheryl Hines and Patrick Warburton portray his fellow chimpnauts Luna and Titan, respectively. They are joined by a talented ensemble including Jeff Daniels, Stanley Tucci, Kristin Chenoweth, Jane Lynch, and Kenan Thompson.