Plenty of actors have lent their voices to prime time animated series like The Simpsons or movies like The Croods and Toy Story. But it’s hard to imagine Saturday Morning Cartoons with huge stars. A lot of people are shocked to find out that the original voice of Shredder on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star James Avery, or to recall which Star Wars veteran was behind The Joker. Perhaps you weren't aware of the big names behind some of these childhood favorites...
Captain Planet and the Planeteers
A group of teenagers use magic rings to harness the elements and to summon Captain Planet, an environmental superhero. Each episode, they battle villains trying to pollute the environment. Whoopi Goldberg voices Gaia, the spirit of the Earth and their boss. What a lot of children at the time didn’t realize is the show’s villains are all played by major celebrities. Meg Ryan is Dr. Blight, a disfigured doctor who works with a sarcastic British computer. Jeff Goldblum plays Verminous Skumm, a mutated rat creature with a fondness for toxic waste. Sting even appears on the show as the creatively named Zarm. Other villains are played by Hollywood veterans Martin Sheen, James Coburn, Malcolm McDowell, and Ed Asner. Major celebs also stop by for guest appearances including Danny Glover, Louis Gossett Jr., and even Elizabeth Taylor.
This Disney cartoon creates a mythology where stone gargoyles come to life when the sun sets. It also has a bizarre Star Trek connection. Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis play series villains David Xanatos and Demona. There are also performance by other The Next Generation stars Michael Dorn, Brett Spiner, LeVar Burton, and Colm Meany. The captains of Deep Space Nine, Avery Brooks, and Voyager, Kate Mulgrew, appear on the cartoon. Nichelle Nichols even makes an appearance.
Batman: The Animated Series
Batman is probably the most star-studded cartoon in television history. The series features appearances by stars from the 1970s to today. 1970s icons like Adrienne Barbeau, Michael York, and Marilu Henner pop by the series. Bewitched actress Elizabeth McGovern plays her last role ever on the cartoon. Mark Hamill, a.k.a. Luke Skywalker, finds a career resurgence playing The Joker. Night Court’s Richard Moll, The Beastmaster Marc Singer, and Melissa Gilbert all bring 1980s nostalgia playing major characters. Bruce Wayne’s various love interests include Heather Locklear, comedian Julie Brown, and Supergirl Helen Slater. There are also appearances by future celebrities like Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss and Megan Mullally.
Similarly, this Man of Steel cartoon has a ton of television actors lending their voices. Superman is voiced by Wings star Tim Daly and Lois Lane is Desperate Housewives star Dana Delany. Sitcom stars Peri Gilpin, Brad Garett, and Joely Fisher all appear on the show.
It was 20 years ago (yes, you're old) that skeptic Dana Scully first teamed up with believer Fox Mulder to investigate the FBI's creepiest cases. Plenty of guest stars joined leads David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the paranormal paradise of The X-Files, including tons of actors who would later blow up in their own right. We've combed through the show's 200+ episodes to bring you 13 of its most significant cameos.
Seth Green already had a healthy filmography built up by the time he was cast as a teenage stoner in first season episode "Deep Throat." But his diner conversation with Special Agents Mulder and Scully probably had a big influence on his future career as showrunner of the geek-tastic cartoon series Robot Chicken.
The West Wing star, next seen in the ABC comedy pilot Trophy Wife, plays a seismologist losing his grip in second season episode "Firewalker."
Future Academy Award-nominee Felicity Huffman was trapped with our heroes while investigating the mysterious deaths of a research team at an Alaskan excavation project. She plays Dr. Nancy Da Silva in "Ice", one of the most suspenseful episodes in the entire series.
It's no surprise that Hollywood hottie Ryan Reynolds would be cast as a popular football player in third season episode "Syzygy." Of course, it's The X-Files, so his high school reign is cut short by two flaky teens driven mad by a rare planetary alignment.
Jack Black/Giovanni Ribisi
"D.P.O.", another third season episode, boasts not one, but two up-and-coming young actors. Jack Black's character owns an arcade where video-game obsessed teen Darin Peter Oswald (Giovanni Ribisi) hangs out when not using his mind to command lightning to kill anyone who pisses him off.Tony Shalhoub
A post-Wings, pre-Monk Tony Shalhoub stars as a dark matter researcher in season two episode "Soft Light." This one is also notable for being the first episode written by Vince Gilligan, who would go on to create a little show called Breaking Bad.
Teeny, tiny Shia LaBeouf can be found late in the series, pulling heart strings as a very ill young boy in season seven's "The Goldberg Variation."
Cutie Jewel Staite has huge nerd cred, having played a kidnapped girl in "Oubliette" from season three and then going on to star in Joss Whedon's epic space western Firefly. Would that the latter would have had as long a run as The X-Files.
What was it about the third season of The X-Files that predicted the future success of almost all its guest stars? We've got another one in Elementary star Lucy Liu, who is credited as "Lucy Alexis Liu" in "Hell Money."
Bryan Cranston was hardly a nobody when he took the role of Patrick Crump in season six episode "Drive." But this appearance earns a spot on the list simply because the episode was another penned by staff writer Vince Gillian, who clearly remembered Cranston's desperate, tension-filled performance when casting Walter White.
The X-Files creative team had a knack for sniffing out future Oscar nominees. Winter's Bone star John Hawkes played a tortured writer in sixth season episode "Milagro," a role written specifically for him.
What could possibly be ickier than a bile-covered, liver-eating mutant who crawls around in sewer ducts? Ask 43-year-old character actor Doug Hutchison, who played classic X-Files monster Eugene Victor Tooms, about his marriage to 19-year-old attention seeker Courtney Stodden.
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Forget Black Swan – Natalie Portman’s real crowning performance is to be found in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached in which director Ivan Reitman asks her to convey sincere unqualified affection for Ashton Kutcher. Portman much to her credit gamely complies and though she may not have the emaciated figure bloody nails and bandaged ankles to tell of her labors the psychic scars must no doubt be just as severe.
Exhibiting strong chick-flick leanings and a rambunctious soft-R comic tone (i.e. lots of F-bombs some menstrual humor and a few shots of Kutcher’s naked ass) No Strings Attached is built around a basic relationship role-reversal: The dude Adam (Kutcher) longs for a deeper lasting commitment; the chick Emma (Portman) insists on keeping matters purely physical. Emma’s motive is a practical one: As a doctor-to-be her busy residency schedule with its 80-hour work weeks and intensive exam preparations precludes a serious relationship. But alas a woman has certain needs (foreplay apparently not being among them) and who better to fulfill them than Kutcher’s non-threatening boy-toy?
Thus a “friends with benefits” arrangement is cemented whereupon the ripcord is to be pulled on the occasion that either of them develops stronger feelings. This does not last long for soon Adam is cloyingly lobbying for escalation. Emma demurs – not out of disinterest we are told but because she’s intimacy-averse and afraid of a broken heart. Why else would she resist a more permanent attachment to someone like Adam?
Perhaps it’s because Adam as played by Kutcher is about as interesting as cabbage. And yet No Strings Attached would have us believe he’s some kind of floppy-haired Albert Schweitzer. This despite the fact that his greatest aspiration in life is to join the writing staff of a High School Musical-esque television series the shallow inanity of which is one of the film’s recurring jokes. In vain support of his cause the filmmakers decorate Adam’s apartment with various props – vintage posters books about 1920s movies a guitar that is occasionally picked up but never actually played – that hint at a depth that Kutcher himself never manifests.
Still Portman sells us on Adam and Emma’s inevitable union with every ounce of her not inconsiderable talent. (And her comic chops are legit – as those who’ve glimpsed her appearances on SNL and Funny or Die can attest.) But she asks too much. And Elizabeth Meriweather’s script while witty and stocked with some keen observations on the evolving nature of relationships in the modern age becomes weighed down by sentiment unbecoming an R-rated comedy not directed by Judd Apatow. In the end Kutcher seals the increasingly contrived deal with the climactic line “I’m warning you: Come one step closer and I’m never letting you go ” (I’m paraphrasing but not loosely) by which time the film's already lost its grip.
Baseball doesn’t hold quite the same magic as it once did. That’s why they had to set Everyone's Hero in the Depression-era when the New York Yankees ruled the game and their star player Babe Ruth sat on the throne. As the story goes a young boy named Yankee Irving (Jake T. Austin) has to save his dad’s job as a janitor at Yankee Stadium after Ruth’s beloved bat is stolen by the big bad Chicago Cubs owner (Robin Williams) and his lackey (William H. Macy) right before the World Series. Yankee’s dad is blamed for the theft so the kid obsessed with the Babe and doesn’t want his family living in the streets sets out on an adventure to get the bat back. He has some help chiefly from an old forgotten baseball (Rob Reiner) —who was once in the Show but got hit out of the park as a lousy foul ball—and the bat itself nicknamed Darlin’ (Whoopi Goldberg) who sasses her way through the shenanigans. Warms your heart already doesn’t it? It seems everyone’s having a good time. Reiner is particularly cantankerous as Screwie voicing the baseball as if he was an old Jewish man yelling at the kids on the street for making too much noise. Not a whole lot to like about the character but he provides comic foil especially with Goldberg as the pampered bat who knows how kind the real Babe is. For some odd reason Williams is un-credited as the blowhard Cubs owner Napoleon Cross but it’s not too hard to pick out his distinctive voice. Maybe the actor didn’t want to be labeled a bad guy. But Macy is sufficiently wacky as Cross’ henchman and Cubs pitcher Lefty McGinnis who has all manner of bad things happen to him--electrocuted hit by a train you get the picture—as he chases after the kid and the bat. In retrospect slamming a movie co-directed by the late Christopher Reeve as a pet project for his young son (with wife Dana Reeve who died of lung cancer earlier this year providing the voice of Yankee’s mom) seems a tad coldhearted. But unfortunately even with all the heart soul--and apparently lots of time--poured into it Everyone's Hero still comes off as bland and overdone. There’s the same hackneyed dialogue filled with the same feel-good messages (“Have faith in yourself!” “Friends stick together!”) and the same insipid pop tunes peppered throughout. It may have been more interesting if the whole story were told from the baseball’s point of view. How about if ALL the equipment talked--the mitts the bases et. al.--and we saw the game through their eyes? Not bad eh? If only this had been my brain child...