Hakuna matata is a wonderful phrase that, come July 19, will be bellowed across the Serengeti in Seth Rogen’s gentle, rumbling Canadian twang.
The Vancouver-born Hollywood star is lending his instantly recognizable voice to the beloved Disney character Pumbaa in the upcoming live-action remake of The Lion King.
However, Rogen is not the only Canadian actor to voice a Disney character this year.
Last month, another of Canada’s acting sons, Keanu Reeves—whose career appears to be undergoing a Matthew McConaughey-esque Reevesurgence—joined the Disney fold when he voiced the character of Duke Caboom, a Canadian daredevil toy in Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4.
They both join a long and illustrious line of Canadian stars who have voiced some iconic, and some incredibly obscure, Disney characters. Here’s a look back on some of the best.
Keanu Reeves became the latest Canadian star to voice a Disney character when he appeared in Toy Story 4
Before Sandra Oh starred in her career-making and Golden Globe-winning role in Grey’s Anatomy, and before she became an even bigger star following the global success of Killing Eve, the Ottawa native voiced Princess Ting-Ting in Mulan II. She also voiced characters on the Disney Channel shows American Dragon: Jake Long, and Phineas and Ferb.
Oh voiced Princess Ting-Ting in Mulan II sequel and some characters on the Disney Channel
Michael J. Fox
In one of the more surprising entries, Back to the Future star Michael J. Fox voiced the lead role in the 2001 movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Fox played Milo Thatch, a cartographer and linguist who works at the Smithsonian museum and thinks he has finally found a way to get to the lost city of Atlantis. This wasn’t Fox’s first voice role, the Emmy award-winning actor famously voiced Stuart Little in the live-action trilogy and Chance in the classic movie, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.
Back to the Future star Michael J. Fox voiced the lead role in 2001’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Will Arnett is no stranger to voice acting, famously lending his gruff vocals to the Netflix adult animated series BoJack Horseman and Batman in the Warner Bros. Lego movies. However, before both those, Arnett had a small role in Pixar’s Ratatouille, voicing Horst, Chef Skinner’s German sous chef.
Arnett had a small role in Pixar’s Ratatouille, voicing Horst, Chef Skinner’s German sous chef
Jennifer Tilly famously provided her distinctive vocals to Family Guy character Bonnie Swanson since the show’s beginning in 1999. She also did Mrs Camille Stout in Michael J. Fox’s 1999 movie, Stuart Little. Tilly’s tones can also be heard in Monsters, Inc as Mike’s girlfriend, and as Grace in 2004’s Disney movie Home on the Range.
Jennifer Tilly voiced Mike’s girlfriend and Monsters, Inc. receptionist in the 2001 movie
To many Edmonton-born actor Nathan Fillion is Mal, the cranky, quick-witted captain of the spaceship Serenity, in Joss Whedon’s early aughts space western TV show. To others, Fillion is crime novelist that ends up helping the police solve murders in ABC’s long-running series Castle.
However, to a—very—select few, Fillion will always be Johnny Worthington III, the president of Roar Omega Roar in 2013’s Monsters University, and Sterling, the wealthy business car in Cars 3.
Edmonton’s Nathan Fillion voiced a couple of characters from Pixar’s Monsters, Inc and Cars 3
With an Order of Canada to his name, Eugene Levy may be one of the nation’s most famous sons, but in the late 1990s and early aughts, he was America’s Dad, starring as the supportive and bizarrely unflappable father of Jason Biggs’s Jim in the hugely popular American Pie movies.
The year before the first American Pie, Levy voiced a character on Disney’s animated series Hercules. More recently, Levy voiced Dory’s father, Charlie, in the Disney/Pixar Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory.
As well as voicing a character on the Hercules animated series, Levy voiced Dory’s father in Finding Dory
Not only did Eugene Levy voice a couple of Disney characters, he also inadvertently made comedy legend Martin Short do the same. The pair met at McMaster University in Ontario and Levy convinced Short to try acting for a year, saying he had a real talent. A stellar comedy career that saw Short work on Second City, Saturday Night Live, Father of the Bride and more, also saw Short famously appear in Disney’s The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. Less famously, Short voiced Lars in 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure, as well as multiple characters in Tim Burton’s 2012 Disney movie Frankenweenie.
Short voiced Lars in 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure and several characters in Tim Burton’s movie Frankenweenie
Another Second City Toronto alum, John Candy knew the last two entries on the list well having worked with them on the Canadian sketch series and other projects. Candy appeared in classic Hollywood movies such as Splash, Cool Runnings, Home Alone, Spaceballs, and Uncle Buck, and he is most famous for his role in John Hughes’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. What many people won’t remember is that Candy also voiced Wilbur, the albatross, in The Rescuers sequel, The Rescuers Down Under.
Candy voiced Wilbur the albatross in 1990 The Rescuers sequel, The Rescuers Down Under
Winnipeg-born Paquin became the second-youngest Oscar winner in 1993, when she won in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role in The Piano, aged just 11. She went on to star in blockbuster movies like X-Men and its sequel X-2, as well as the HBO TV show True Blood.
In 2015 Paquin voiced Ramsey in Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur. She also voiced Princess Sheeta in the 1998 Disney English dub of Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky.
In 2015 Winnipeg-born Anna Paquin voiced Ramsey in Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur
The son of Canadian acting royalty, Kiefer Sutherland is most famous for his role of Jack Bauer on the long-running American show 24. However, just as his gruff voice was an iconic part of the grizzled federal agent, it also translated well into the world of animation.
Sutherland has voiced characters in shows such as Family Guy and The Simpsons, as well as video games like Call of Duty and Metal Gear Solid. It therefore shouldn’t come as any surprise that Sutherland is part of the Disney voice family, starring in 2006’s animated movie The Wild, as Samson the lion.
You can hear Sutherland’s gruff voice in 2006’s The Wild, where he voices Samson the lion
Sutherland’s co-star in 2006’s The Wild is one of the most recognizable people—and voices—on the planet. William Shatner, who was born and raised in Notre-Dame-de-Grace area of Montreal, voiced Kazar, a wildebeest who is intent on flipping the food chain and becoming a predator.
TV icon William Shatner co-starred with Sutherland in The Wild, where he voiced a wildebeest
Nelson, B.C.-born actor Thomas Middleditch is probably most famous for his role in HBO’s Silicon Valley—or the 2017 Captain Underpants movie if you have kids under the age of ten.
However, the actor also provided the vocals for the main character of Penn Zero in Disney XD’s Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero for the two seasons the show was on air.
Middleditch voiced the main character in Disney XD’s Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero for the two seasons the show was on air
By 1998, Never Campbell was at the peak of her powers. She was on the critically-acclaimed 90s TV show Party of Five, had starred in the surprise hit The Craft, Scream and its sequel, and Wild Things opposite Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon and Denise Richards. However, that was the year Campbell also went in a different direction and starred in the sequel to The Lion King, voicing Klara, Simba’s daughter in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride.
Neve Campbell voiced Klara in 1998 The Lion King sequel, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
One of the few people to have won the coveted trio of acting awards: Emmy, Oscar and Tony, Christopher Plummer has appeared in some of the most classic movies of all time including The Sound of Music, Waterloo, and The Man Who Would Be King.
In 2009, Plummer added a Disney classic to his credits, appearing in Pixar’s Up as the eccentric adventurer Charles Muntz.
Screen legend Christopher Plummer voiced Charles Muntz in 2009’s Disney/Pixar movie Up
One of the most famous people, let alone actors, on the planet, Jim Carrey has starred in some of the most memorable movies of the 90s including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Batman Forever, Liar Liar, and The Truman Show. His movies have grossed a total of $2.5 billion and he has won two Golden Globes and been nominated for a Grammy and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
In 2009, Carrey starred in the 3D computer-animated Disney movie based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Using motion-capture, Carrey starred as Ebeneezer Scrooge and also voiced the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.
Carrey starred in the 3D animated Disney movie based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol