Once upon a time voice-over roles were reserved for seasoned pros who forged a career of bringing characters to life from behind the microphone. Those days are long behind us now, though, as celebrities increasingly land voice roles in Hollywood, videogames and beyond.
There have been some great results too: The late Robin Williams’ Genie in Aladdin, for example, or the iconic voice of Darth Vader by James Earl Jones.
And then we have the others. The vocal flops that have tarnished careers and our eardrums with some of the worst celebrity voice-overs around.
Brad Pitt, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
Proof that genuinely talented actors can make complete howlers of voice roles, we kick off our list with Brad Pitt’s rendition of Sinbad in the 2003 DreamWorks animation. It’s impressive how monotonous Pitt manages to deliver his lines, regardless of the action unfolding in any given scene of this seabound adventure.
Christopher Walken, True Crime: Streets of LA & Ripper (video games)
So we know being an on-screen actor doesn’t give you a free pass success in voice roles. But there are certain actors whose voices you would expect to nail roles from behind the mic. Clearly, there’s more to voice acting than vocal chords alone, and Christopher Walken offers up not one, but two fine examples in the videogames True Crime: Streets of LA and Ripper.
Angelina Jolie, Kung Fu Panda series
Being the great wife she is, Angelina Jolie wouldn’t let husband Brad shoulder all the voice-over shame on his own. Not a chance. And three Kung Fu Panda movies later Jolie has cemented the excruciatingly bland role of Tigress as her own. Worse still, her somewhat flat performances are only exaggerated by the impressive efforts of Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman in their respective roles.
Scarlett Johansson, SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
Celebrity voice-overs can go wrong for many reasons, but Scarlett Johansson as Mindy in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie ticks every box on the list of fails. A blatant attempt to pad out the film’s cast with an A-list name backfires and it’s pretty obvious Johansson’s time in the studio was rushed. The end result is some cringeworthy overacting, which stands out a mile alongside the likes of Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke, who had been voicing their characters for five years already.
Mena Suvari, Kingdom Hearts II (video game)
The good news for Scarlett is she’s not the worst voice performer on our list today. That prestigious award goes to the not quite so A-list Mena Suvari (American Pie, American Beauty) and her fine work as Aerith Gainsborough in Kingdom Hearts II.
Tom Hanks, The Polar Express
This one may divide some opinions, but Tom Hanks’ grand total of six roles in The Polar Express earn him a spot on our list. Actually, it’s only five of those parts that qualify the man who voices Woody in the Toy Story franchise. Because, aside from the young boy The Polar Express revolves around, it’s painfully obvious Tom Hanks is the voice behind each of his five other characters.
Owen Wilson, Cars 1 & 2
Wrapping up our list of woeful voice roles is a videogame that earnt itself a cult status of sorts for this celebrity casting choice. After bringing a highly pixelated John McClane to life (or not) in the Die Hard Trilogy game, Bruce Willis expanded his voice CV with the equally amusing and ’90s nostalgic Apolcalypse.
Well, that’s our pick of the worst celebrity voice-over roles, but it wasn’t easy to narrow down the much larger list of contenders. So let us know if you think anyone deserves a spot in the hall of voice-over shame.