The original Transformers might be terribly animated and written by people with no understanding of romance, but the show spared no expense in one crucial respect: It always had a killer voice cast. And as a result, pretty much every voice actor, and a few oddball choices, turned up on the show.
First of all, pretty much every voice actor of any repute in the ’80s spent some time on Cybertron. Frank Welker, a legend who’s been a voice on every single cartoon that’s ever existed and offered voice work on dozens of feature films as well, is the voice of Megatron. Jim Cummings played Afterburner, Rippersnapper and assorted Sharkticons on his way to getting dangerous as Darkwing Duck. And you know Peter Cullen not just as Optimus Prime, but as Eeyore.
But the show has racked up some interesting guest stars and voice actors well beyond the usual suspects. For example…
Kasem is, of course, one of the most widely heard radio DJs in history, but just as interesting as the fact that he voiced no fewer than three Transformers is why he stopped voicing them. Essentially, Kasem got fed up with how Arab characters were treated in the show, and eventually quit over it. Gee, hard to believe a show that created the Arab nation of Carbombya could be so insensitive.
Crothers is probably best known for his role as Dick Hallorann in The Shining, but he actually voiced the beloved Autobot Jazz until his death in 1986, just part of a long career. In exchange for being voiced by a respected actor, Michael Bay had Megatron rip him in half in the first movie. We’ll leave the implications of that to the reader.
Yeah, the brother on Everybody Loves Raymond had a far more dignified role back in the ’80s as a voice actor. Specifically, he was Trypticon. Yes, they hired an extremely tall actor to voice the evil walking city. It’s Method acting!
The voice of Sweep, Sandstorm and Junkyard is actually probably better known to every man in America as Dave “Killer” Carlson, or, rather “that guy who beat the ever-loving hell out of everybody in Slap Shot.” Sadly, there was no hockey-themed robot for Houser to voice, which is weird, this being the Transformers in the ’80s. They had a themed robot for everything.
McGovern is a beloved acting teacher and voice actor, and he seems an odd choice for this list, we admit. Until you realize McGovern is the man who said “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.” In fact, he also named Chewie, indirectly: McGovern famously ad-libbed “I think I hit a Wookiee!” as police radio chatter for Lucas’ first film, THX-1138. Yep, the voice of Wildrider and Onslaught is also a Stormtrooper. Which explains a lot about them both, really.
You may not know the name, but you definitely know the face: Clive Revill has been in pretty much everything, and he was even the original voice of Emperor Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back. We have yet to see Kickback in the movies, but we’re sure he’ll show up only to be replaced by a puppet or something when Michael Bay returns to the inevitable Special Editions of the Transformers movies twenty-five years later.
Davis is best known as a stuntman and stunt coordinator: Odds are pretty good that he’s been involved in the stunts for a movie that you’ve seen, and probably more than one. Weirdly, his work on Transformers remains his only significant voice acting, and he’s even voiced multiple characters, including Dirge, Metroplex, and Predaking.
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