10 terrific voices behind great sci-fi characters

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Marc Bernardin
Dec 14, 2012

Darth Vader, Optimus Prime and the Joker are all sci-fi legends, but you know something? If not for the faceless actors and actresses—some famous, some not—who gave sound and fury to some of pop culture's most beloved characters, they'd be nothing but MIMES.

Chesk out 10 of our favorites below.


Darth Vader, the Star Wars saga

No one voice has had a greater impact on popular culture than Jones'—and that's even if you ignore his "This is CNN" gig. As the voice of Lord Vader, Jones' rumbling baritone defined the sound of evil for generations of children. Put it this way: No one grows up wanting to sound like Luke "But I wanted to go to Tashii Station" Skywalker.


Optimus Prime, Transformers

This is what talking robots should sound like, as if their bellies are filled with magma and jet fuel. (Little known fact: Cullen's most frequent role of the past 10 years was as Eeyore in the Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons.)


The Joker, Batman: The Animated Series

Yes, he was Luke Skywalker, and when he wins his honorary Oscar, they'll play the Star Wars theme when he accepts it. But for most of the past 20 years, Hamill's also been the defining voice of the Clown Prince of Crime in TV shows, films and video games—and his agonizingly upbeat cackle will always be what we hear when we read the adventures of the Dark Knight.


Linda the Newscaster, Joan Rivers Head and many more Futurama

Tress MacNeille has been doing cartoons since the late '70s, and she's been working steadily ever since—voicing characters in the dubbed versions of Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Kiki's Delivery Service; as well as Duck Tales, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, The Boondocks and Futurama. And since 1999, she's been the voice of Disney Animation's maid of honor, Daisy Duck.


Darkseid, Justice League and Superman

He's been a bad guy in movies and TV for more than 30 years now, harassing heroes ranging from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Free Willy. But he was never more menacing than when taunting Superman into an all-out slugfest.


Lex Luthor, Justice League and Superman

Sure, he was a loyal sidekick in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, but Brown was seared into our memories thanks to 1986's Highlander. Slicing off heads with reckless abandon, Brown ably wielded his rolling thunder of a voice, which has the power to shake confidence and loosen bowels. He later put that voice to good use as Lex Luthor in both the Superman and Justice League cartoons, serving as the eternal thorn in the Bug Blue Schoolboy's side.


Yoda, the Star Wars saga

If the only voice Oz ever did was the minuscule green Jedi Master, his place in the science fiction firmament would be assured. But when you add his work with Sesame Street and the Muppets—voicing Cookie Monster, Grover, Miss Piggy, Bert, Sam the Eagle, Fozzie Bear and Animal—it becomes clear that his pipes should somehow be enshrined on money.


Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

Because he's Homer Effing Simpson, dammit.


Samurai Jack, Samurai Jack and Green Lantern, Justice League

One of the most consistently employed voice actors in Hollywood, Lamarr has been in Static Shock, Invader ZIM, Robot Chicken, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Afro Samurai, King of the Hill and Family Guy. But he'll always be John Stewart to us.


Brock Samson, The Venture Bros.

The former Puddy has actually done more voice work than you might think, having been on Family Guy, The Emperor's New School, Kim Possible and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. But for our money, he's never been better than when he's plumming it up as the Venture family's brainy brawn.

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