When discussing the art of “acting,” many tend to think of live action performances. Acting on screen is a challenge that few can handle, not to mention be successful at. Voice acting is a whole other element requiring a different level of skill. Being able to convey emotion and action solely using one’s voice is incredibly demanding. Usually, voice actors and live action actors are two different breeds. There is a reason that most authors are terrible audio book narrators — they are far more comfortable in the world of the written word. Many artists are highly skilled in one area of expertise, and fall short in most other creative outlets.
There are the rare few though, who can pull off multiple ends of the acting spectrum. Some are long-standing actors famous for countless roles with over a hundred years of accumulated time on screen and stage. Others are more recent talents brought to the limelight by a specific character portrayal. Regardless of how different they are, these actors have one thing in common — they can portray a certain character very well, both in live action and voice over. Who are some of the characters and actors capable of this transition? CBR examines in the following list!
15. STEPHEN AMELL – GREEN ARROW
“Billionaire,” “playboy” and “hunter” are descriptors not usually found together in the same sentence. Oliver Queen, however, are all of these and more as the skilled vigilante Green Arrow. Our modern day Robin Hood first graced the pages of DC comics back in 1955 in Adventure Comics #218, “The Two Worlds of Superboy.” Arrow was brought to life in the TV series Smallville by Ryan Overton, who played a teenage Oliver Queen in flashback cuts of the episode “Reunion.”
Green Arrow was portrayed more consistently on the show by Justin Hartley, who won the hearts of many fans. Most recently, the green-hooded crime fighter has been played by Stephen Amell on various live action shows, including The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. Amell has also given Arrow life in several animated productions and video games, including Vixen and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
14. MEGALYN ECHIKUNWOKE – VIXEN
Many fans were first introduced to Megalyn Echikunwoke through her role on the 7th Season of That 70’s show. Ms. Echikunwoke is so much more than just “Hyde’s half sister,” as was demonstrated by her role in the 2008 indie film Who Do You Love. The actress does some intense work including all her own singing in that movie! It’s one that is definitely worth watching, just make sure you have a box of tissues on hand.
Megalyn is currently most noted for her role as the Mari McCabe version of DC’s Vixen. She first started voice acting for the animated TV series named for the sharp-clawed superhero in 2015, and later performed Vixen’s voice for the Injustice 2 video game. A year after the animated Vixen series, Megalyn got to play Vixen in live action for the show Arrow, where she has made several appearances.
13. KEVIN SMITH AND JASON MEWES – JAY AND SILENT BOB
Considering they’ve been best buddies since they first met, we chose to list these two together. Kevin Smith is renowned for his writing, directing, and acting, especially as the wise but quiet Silent Bob. Jason Mewes is an actor with various roles under his belt, but we tend to think of “Jay” when we hear his name. They took the world by storm together on screen as this dynamic duo, making us laugh, ponder, and sometimes even cry.
Jay and Silent Bob also took to the screen in an animated series. Dubbed, “Clerks: The Animated Series,” this show was widely praised and ran for two years. Kevin and Jason also voice acted as Jay and Silent Bob in 2013’s Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, where we get to see them as the superheroes “Bluntman” and “Chronic.” Snoochie boochies, ladies and germs!
12. JON HEDER – NAPOLEON DYNAMITE
Jon Heder has an impressive acting record, but was shot to overnight super stardom when he brought the world the unforgettable Napoleon Dynamite. Pedro danced, Kip said “Peace Out,” and Napoleon dropped deadpan line after line that had us rolling on the floor with delight. A new kind of humor was spawned and the landscape of comedy was forever transformed.
We got more of the goofy, good, clean fun in animated form too, when they did parodies of the film on the show Robot Chicken. Later, in 2012, Jon Heder performed the voice acting for Napoleon Dynamite in an animated TV series based on what happened to the characters after the live action film hit theaters several years before. Unfortunately, it was short lived, as there were only six episodes produced.
11. CASPER VAN DIEN – JOHNNY RICO
In 1997, director Paul Vierhoven brought to the screen one of the most infamous films of that year, Starship Troopers. Considered by many to be one of the most underrated science fiction movies ever, Starship brought the Dark Horse Comics series to life, in all of its “Bug” battled, Fourth Wall breaking glory. Among the many battalions of the “United Citizen Federation”, one soldier stood out as a beacon of hope, gallantry, and valor — Juan “Johnny” Rico.
Casper Van Dien nailed the live action role of this character perfectly. So much so, in fact, that he was brought on to voice act the General in Starship Troopers: The Video Game, and in the animated feature Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars, which was released in 2017. On the bounce, troopers! The only good Bug is a dead Bug! Oorah! Etc.
10. ADAM WEST – BATMAN
The late, great Adam West was truly a prolific actor whose career lasted over six decades. He performed multiple roles as both a voice actor and on screen, from Doc Holliday to a Scooby Doo character. Mr. West even performed as himself on shows like Futurama, 30 Rock, and The Fairly OddParents. One of Adam West’s most beloved roles was as Bruce Wayne and Batman, both on screen and voice.
He first donned the cowl in 1966 on the iconic TV series, Batman, and has been affiliated with Batsy ever since. Mr. West brought the B-man to life in such a powerful way that he did multiple voice acting roles for animated presentations of Bats, more recently in The Caped Crusader. This was a hilarious animated parody of the very show Adam West started off as Batman in.
9. MARK HAMILL – LUKE SKYWALKER
Many fans are familiar with Mark Hamill’s live action performances as Luke Skywalker. He is also famous for his voice acting, primarily as The Joker in various DC Animated releases and video games, such as Batman: Arhkham Knight and Arkham City. However, most people are not familiar with Mr. Hamill’s voice acting as Luke Skywalker for an animated feature.
In what is quite possibly one of the most amazing and simultaneously awful films CBR has ever seen, The Star Wars Holiday Special, we are treated to a rare performance of Mark Hamill voice acting as Luke Skywalker. That, and much, much more are in this timeless classic — “See Princess Leia Sing! Meet Chewie’s family! Watch a Golden Girl get in a bar fight!” An absolute must-see for any fan of Star Wars, ’70s style animation, or laughing so hard tears roll down your face from all the awful.
8. SIR IAN MCKELLEN – GANDALF
Sir Ian McKellen is another prolific actor whose career has spanned more than 50 years. He has starred both on stage, on screen, and as a voice actor. Sir Ian has played so many high impact roles that it is hard to put a finger on a favorite. Fans around the world can agree that he was brilliantly cast as the iconic Gandalf The Grey from J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels brought to life.
As Gandalf, Sir Ian captured our hearts and minds the moment he entered our worlds with his pipe and magical smoke clouds. Leading the Hobbits on a wild adventure we were all too happy to participate in vicariously. Not only did Sir Ian give us the beloved wizard on screen, he also portrayed his voice for four of the Lord of the Rings video games.
7. ELIJAH WOOD – FRODO BAGGINS
Elijah Wood initially launched his career in a small role in Back to the Future Part II. Since then, “Video Game Boy” has landed many major roles — one of our favorites at CBR is his role as Kevin in Sin City. On the other end of the acting spectrum, Elijah was cast as Frodo Baggins, and the fantasy film world has never been the same.
His smaller frame, baby face, and striking eyes made Elijah Wood the perfect candidate to bring the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins, to life for the first time. Together, he and his buddy Sam surmounted adventures we can only dream of, or that hopefully inspire us to dream big. Elijah Wood has also taken on the role of Hobbit and Frodo as a voice actor for two of the Lord of the Rings video games.
6. CARRIE FISHER – PRINCESS LEIA
We are a massive fan of Robot Chicken, and we also love Star Wars. Mixing the two together equals comedic and nerdy perfection! The most beloved princess in the universe gave us laughs as she joined in the animated fun (so did Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker!). She gave us even more, whether on purpose or not, in The Star Wars Holiday Special.
Not only did she do live action and voice acting in this brilliantly terrible dated piece of ’70s mastery, she also sings a holiday-themed song surrounded by Wookies in Red Robes. Carrie Fisher actually did a really great job singing that somewhat cheesy song, and we’re not just saying that because she is Our Princess. She also did voice recordings as Leia for the Lego Star Wars movie, which is also a fun ride, but unlike the Holiday Special, makes you laugh on purpose.
5. HUGH JACKMAN – WOLVERINE
Logan is a character so powerful, he is capable of bridging gaps between lovers of DC and Marvel. Most fans can agree that Hugh Jackman just kills it as Wolverine, as is so eloquently pointed out by Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool. The “Weapon X” mutant is fierce, and Jackman is able to bring that ferocity to life in a massive way. He hasn’t done much voice acting, but Mr. Jackman has voiced Logan for the video games X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: The Game.
He also recorded voice over dubs as Wolverine for live-action scenes where a microphone couldn’t easily capture his voice in the moment, such as running through the woods while kicking butt and taking names. Many actors have done this, but there is video of Hugh Jackman recording it on the internet, and he gets really into it, all while wearing a tank top. Need we say more?
4. ARLEEN SORKIN – THE ORIGINAL HARLEY QUINN
“You have a name that puts on a smile on my face, Harleen Quinzel. Put them together, and you’ve got ‘Harley Quinn’.” “Like the clown character, Harlequin. Yes, I’ve heard it before.” The inspiration for DC’s interpretation of the the most infamous harlequin on the planet comes from multiple influences. One of the biggest was the performance of a harlequin character by Arleen Sorkin on Paul Dini’s Days of our Lives.
Capering about in familiar looking motley and painted face, on roller-skates, and performing wild antics, Arleen Sorkin shines in the role. One can also see how this performance influenced Paul Dini’s creation of Harley Quinn. Ms. Sorkin was also a talented voice actress — bringing the world a voice for Harley as iconic as Hamill is to Joker and Conway is to Bats — for multiple animated and video game features.
3. ROBERT REMUS – SERGEANT SLAUGHTER
A real life and on screen hero, Robert Remus served as a Marine before joining the Sports Entertainment industry as a professional wrestler. He experimented with a few personas before pulling his fatigues out of his closet, donning the nickname he was given in the Corps, “Sergeant Slaughter,” and proceeding to become one of the most famous wrestling personas in history.
In addition to being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Slaughter has made history as the first person to ever have a G.I. Joe action figure made in his honor, which remains one of the top selling figurines by the company. The Sarge has also been featured in Marvel’s G.I. Joe comics, and voice acted his own persona on G.I. Joe cartoons. That is pretty impressive by any standards, Sergeant. “You’re dismissed, maggot!”
2. ANDY SERKIS
Okay this one is a bit of a cheat, but few people can simnultaneously do voice acting and actual acting, but Serkis is the king of the place where the twain meet. In fact, Andy Serkis is one of the most diverse actors on this list. He has done the motion capture for many major roles, including Cesar from Planet of the Apes, Gollum from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and Snoke from The Last Jedi. In addition to some seriously amazing motion capture work, Mr. Serkis also performs the voice acting for many of his characters.
This is truly impressive considering the contortions and crawling he performed as Gollum, one of the most notable creatures he has brought to life on the big screen from the pages of a book. Andy Serkis is so prolific that he has been dubbed “The World’s Greatest Motion Capture Actor” by many, and we at CBR are inclined to agree.
1. MATT RYAN – JOHN CONSTANTINE
There are some people who seem born to perform certain roles. Matt Ryan is that actor for Vertigo Comics/DC’s John Constantine. He first started performing the character on screen in NBC’s TV series Constantine in 2014 . Though it only lasted eight episodes, the show was a fun ride, and brought us a person who looks so similar to the source materials it’s uncanny.
No heavy make-up is needed — bleach his hair, throw the man in a light brown trench coat, give him a cigarette and a five o’clock shadow, and BOOM — you have Constantine, in the flesh. Matt Ryan continues to act as John in current shows like Legends of Tomorrow, and has lent his talents to the DCAU in 2017’s Justice League Dark. We will get more Matt Ryan as John Constantine goodness in the near future with the release of CW Seed’s animated series, Constantine, in 2018!
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