Disney movies are responsible for some of the most lovable and iconic characters in cinematic history. As new generations of movie-goers emerge each year, the production giant continues to evolve its movie making technology to retell or modernize classics that established Disney as an animated force to be reckoned with. With retelling comes recasting.
Many memorable and beloved characters have found new voices over the decades. Of course films like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beasthave evolved to the point from animation to stage show to live-action remakes that there are dozens of performers who have embodied various characters. These characters are few of the many that have been given a new life with a new voice or actor to bring a new spin to the children of those that grew up with the original.
Kaa the Snake
First voiced by the Disney go-to Sterling Holloway, Kaa the Snake has been voiced by three different stars. Kaa made his Disney debut in 1967 when The Jungle Book hit theaters. Audiences would recognize Holloway’s distinctly innocent-sounding tone after hearing it first in Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland in 1951. The slithery character would become one of his most iconic roles. In 2003, Disney would attempt a sequel to the beloved classic, picking up where the original left off with Mowgli and the young Indian girl from the village. Kaa would make an appearance once again as the villainous side-kick to Shere Khan, this time voiced by Disney’s modern voice man, Jim Cummings.
Almost 50 years after the original animated film was released, Jon Favreau would bring to life perhaps one of the most beautifully crafted remakes in 2016. This time, Kaa, much more life-like and sinister would be voiced by the seductive Scarlett Johansson. Kaa would stand apart as her own jungle threat, separating the original story’s duo with Shere Khan.
In a decision that seemed to divide audiences, critics and movie-goers alike, Buzz Lightyear’s voice was replaced in 2022. The space ranger made his debut in 1995 with Toy Story. Comedic actor Tim Allen brought the iconic toy to life, voicing Buzz for a total of 17 projects for almost 25 years. From video games, shorts, and four feature films, Buzz’s voice remained the same along with the main cast of toys 90s kids grew up with.
Disney announced it would be giving Buzz an origin story film, giving the character a new voice with non-other than Marvel hero himself, Chris Evans. A tough task to battle, Evans and the new cast of 2022’s Lightyear attempted to make this character their own. While the early critic reviews are positive, time will tell if fans are accepting of their favorite action hero toy’s new voice.
Lady & Tramp
Disney’s spaghetti-eating dogs have seen three different voices throughout their cinematic history. The first Lady and the Tramp animated film appeared in 1955. Bringing to the screen one of Hollywood’s most iconic scenes, the spaghetti dinner, the film’s heroine Lady, a cocker spaniel, was voiced by Barbara Luddy. The mutt and love interest, Tramp, was voiced by Larry Roberts. The pair would be recast for the franchise’s sequel film Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure in 2001 after the death of both original actors (Luddy passing in 1979 and Roberts in 1992).
Disney princess Jodi Benson would step in to voice Lady and notable voice actor Jeff Bennett would voice tramp for the video sequel. As the animated giant began utilizing the ever-evolving CGI technology, Lady and the Tramp was selected for a modern remake alongside other classic animated tales. This Lady would be voiced by Tessa Thompson and portrayed onscreen by a real-life cocker spaniel named Rose. Tramp would be voiced by Justin Theroux and brought to life onscreen by rescue dog Monte.
Winnie the Pooh
Another Holloway character recast throughout the years is Winnie the Pooh. Pooh first appeared with Holloway’s voice in 1966 in a short film titled Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. The bumbling bear would be brought to life by Holloway for a total of five projects from 1966 to 1982 including the feature film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This character is Holloway’s most recognized voice role. Holloway passed away in 1992, though his last project was completed in 1986.
Cummings would once again take over for Holloway in 1983 with a short starring the beloved teddy bear. He has since voiced Pooh for just about four decades. His voice was so seamless from Holloway’s that young viewers were unable to tell the difference. The most recent film portrayal of the bear was in the live-action film Christopher Robin in 2018.
Cruella De Vil
From animated films and series to live-action films, Cruella De Vil has seen multiple women embody her powerful character. She first graced the Disney screen in 1961 with Betty Lou Gerson in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. In the 2002 straight-to-video sequel 101 Dalmatians 2: Patch’s London AdventureCruella would be voiced by Susanne Blakeslee. Blakeslee would voice the villain throughout the Disney Channel series House of Mouse with April Winchell taking over for the TV series 101 Dalmatians: The Series.
When it comes to portraying the fashion designer in real-life, the most terrifying version goes to Glen Close. Close embodied Cruella in two live-action feature films 101 Dalmatians (1996) and 102 Dalmatians (2000). The most recent depiction of this memorable Disney villain comes at the hands of Emma Stone in the original story film Cruella. The 2021 film would not be her last,Cruella 2is already in the works.
Disney’s most wonderful bounciful tiger, Tigger is another iconic character that has undergone a voice actor change. Tigger’s first voice came from yet another Disney regular, Paul Winchell. Winchell is a notable voice actor responsible for other Disney characters like Boomer in The Fox and the Hound. He first voiced Tigger in 1974 for a short Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Toocontinuing to voice the character until his death in 2005.
Keeping yet another Disney favorite alive, Cummings lent his vocals to maintain Tigger’s legacy following Winchell’s death in 2005. From 1988 until 2005, there would be overlap between the two actors as Cummings would voice Tigger in some projects and Winchell in others. Tigger would get a live-action role in 2018’s Christopher Robin where Cummings would also voice him in addition to Winnie the Pooh.
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