Disney Pixar’s Lightyear boasts an impressive voice cast that includes Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, and Taika Waititi, among others. However, one name particularly stands out: James Brolin. The iconic actor lends his voice to the evil Emperor Zurg, adding considerable prestige to the project.
Like Brolin, several other iconic actors have worked with Pixar in the past. Indeed, Brolin joins a long list of legendary performers who have worked with the revered studio throughout the decades, lending their voicing talents and helping some of cinema’s most memorable animated characters come to life.
James Brolin – Lightyear (2022)
Emperor Zurg is Buzz Lightyear’s arch-nemesis. In Lightyear, Zurg is the commander of an invading robotic army that comes into conflict with Buzz. The film holds several twists and turns, including one for the evil Emperor.
James Brolin provides Zurg’s voice in Lightyear. Brolin is a Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor best known for his television roles in films like Marcus Welby, MD, Hoteland Life in Pieces. Brolin’s film career includes roles in Skyjackedthe original Westworldand the Oscar-winning Traffic. Brolin is father to Oscar-nominee Josh Brolin and husband to music legend Barbra Streisand.
Whoopi Goldberg – Toy Story 3 (2010)
2010’s Toy Story 3 finds the toys accidentally donated to a daycare center, where they meet the duplicitous Lots-O’-Huggin ‘Bear and his gang. Stretch, a rubber purple octopus, is the sole female member and EGOT-winner Whoopi Goldberg voices Stretch. It might be a small role, but Goldberg’s distinctive voice is instantly recognizable.
The actress rose to prominence in the early 80s before receiving her breakthrough in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 drama The Color Purple. Goldberg won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her scene-stealing role in the 1990 hit Ghost and has a successful film career starring in hits like Sister Act and Made in America. Goldberg currently serves as a host on The View.
Angela Bassett – Soul (2020)
2020’s Soul tells the story of Joe Gardner, an aspiring pianist who seemsingly dies and tries to reunite his separated soul and body. Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey lead a cast that also includes Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett as Dorothea Williams, a jazz saxophonist.
Bassett graduated from Yale University and began her career in the early ’80s. The actress received her breakthrough and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Tina Turner in the musical biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It. Other successful films followed, including Malcolm X, Pantherand How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Bassett played several roles in the acclaimed show American Horror Story and is currently part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, playing Queen Ramonda in the Black Panther film series.
Edward James Olmos – Coco (2017)
Inspired by the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead, Coco follows Miguel, a 12-year-old boy who gets accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead and must team up with Héctor, a charming trickster. The voice cast includes Edward James Olmos as Chicharrón, a friend of Héctor’s who becomes forgotten in the Land of the Dead.
Olmos rose to prominence in the ’80s thanks to his Emmy-winning role in the hit show Miami Vice and his Oscar-nominated performance in the drama Stand and Deliver. The actor starred in numerous other television and film hits, including Blade Runner and Battlestar Galacticaand played Abraham Quintanilla in the musical biopic Selena.
Sigourney Weaver – WALL-E (2008)
WALL-E is one of many Pixar films that deal with serious issues. The film centers on the titular robot, a cleaning unit on an uninhabitable Earth, who falls in love with a visiting robot named EVE. Although the film features minimal dialogue, the sci-fi icon Sigourney Weaver voices the computer of the Axiomthe ship that carries the remnants of humanity.
Weaver rose to fame during the late ’70s thanks to her star-making role in Ridley Scott’s Alien. She reprised her role in the sequel, 1986’s Aliens, receiving an Oscar nomination for her work. She would receive two further acknowledgments from the Academy for her performances in Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girlboth in 1988. Weaver also starred in two more Alien sequels, Ghostbusters and its sequel, and James Cameron’s groundbreaking hit Avatar.
Emma Thompson – Brave (2012)
2012’s Locks is one of the best mother-child stories in animation. The film follows the intrepid and spirited princess Merida, who finds herself on a journey of self-discovery after a curse turns her mother into a bear. Emma Thompson is in charge of bringing Queen Elinor to life.
Thompson is one of the most acclaimed and beloved British actresses in history. She rose to prominence in the mid- 80s before achieving critical and commercial success in the ’90s thanks to a series of period pieces, including Howard’s Endfor which she won the Oscar for Best Actress, and Sense and Sensibility, which earned her an Oscar for Adapted Screenplay. Today, Thompson remains a movie star, starring in hits like Beauty and the Beast and Cruella.
Samuel L. Jackson – The Incredibles (2004, 2018)
The superhero boom of the 2000s was just beginning when Pixar’s The Incredibles came out. The film follows a retired hero whose return to crime-fighting inadvertently puts his family in danger. Samuel L. Jackson voices one of the most spin-off-worthy characters in any Pixar film, Lucius Best, AKA Frozone.
Jackson achieved international acclaim following his Oscar-nominated supporting turn in Quentin Tarantino’s groundbreaking hit Pulp Fiction. The actor built a successful career, juggling leading and supporting roles in blockbusters and prestigious films alike. Jackson recently received an Honorary Oscar for his prolific and revered career.
Paul Newman – Cars (2006)
2006’s Cars focused on Lightning McQueen, a race car who gets stranded in the lost town of Radiator Springs while on the way to an important race. Oscar winner and Golden Age icon Paul Newman voiced Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet and the town’s elder.
Newman first gained notoriety on stage before achieving acclaimed with films in the late ’50s, most specifically Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Newman’s career blossomed in the ’60s and’ 70s, eventually amassing ten Oscar nominations and winning the statuette for his performance in Martin Scorsese’s 1986’s The Color of Money. Cars would be his final role before his retirement in 2007.
Christopher Plummer – Up (2009)
2009’s Ref centers on Carl Fredricksen, a bitter widower who ties countless helium balloons to his house in an attempt to travel to Paradise Falls in South America and fulfill a promise to his late wife. Christopher Plummer voices Charles Muntz, an explorer obsessed with finding an elusive bird.
Plummer first made waves on the stage, becoming a skilled thespian. However, he achieved worldwide success thanks to his performance as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Plummer won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the 2011 comedy Beginnersearning two additional nominations in the same category for the films The Last Station and All the Money in the World. Plummer remained active until his death in early 2021.
Peter O’Toole – Ratatouille (2006)
2007 saw the premiere of Ratatouille, the ultimate Pixar film for foodies. The film follows Remy, a rat with culinary talents, who partners with an inexperienced young garbage boy to become a cook at a fancy Parisian restaurant. The legendary Peter O’Toole voices Anton Ego, a notorious food critic and one of the film’s antagonists.
O’Toole achieved stardom and critical acclaim with 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia. The film launched a successful film career that spanned over four decades, well into the 2000s. O’Toole received a record eight Oscar nominations without ever winning, although he received an Honorary Oscar in 2002.
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