Less than 20 years ago, voice acting was almost exclusively the realm of voice actors—people specifically trained to provide voices for animated characters. The rise of the celebrity voice actor can be traced to a single film: Disney’s 1992 breakout animated hit Aladdin, where Robin Williams voiced the film’s hyperactive Genie.
The celebrification of voicework can be traced through the films Disney released in the years after Aladdin, from The Lion King (Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones) to Home on the Range (Roseanne Barr, Dame Judi Dench). But the trend has been most prevalent in the computer-animated films that have dominated family-friendly cinema since Pixar released Toy Story in 1995.
The marketability of a big-name celebrity voice actor gave way, perhaps inevitably, to an even more insidious trend: directly basing a character’s appearance on the famous actor providing its voice. With the marketing machine growing larger by the day unfortunately, conventional voice actors rarely get the chance to helm a contemporary animated film. Banderas’s voice is perfect for Puss—the character was tailored to it, after all—but in the end, Banderas has one voice, and when the best voice actors have “a thousand voices,” it’s hard not to feel like they’re being wasted.
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