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Homer likes to speak. But who speaks for him?
Homer likes to speak. But who speaks for him?
Fox/Getty Images

What 11 famous voice actors — from Homer Simpson to Siri — really look like

Voice acting is a craft that's as intimate as a conversation, yet can be completely hidden from view. This is what some of the world's most well-known voices actually look like — and sound like when they're not on the job.

1

Homer from The Simpsons is played by Dan Castellaneta

Castellaneta voices at least 26 characters on The Simpsons, including Homer, Grandpa Abe, and Groundskeeper Willie. He says he's drawn inspiration from impressions he did as a kid. He's also come up with great characters through improvisation. Groundskeeper Willie's Scottish brogue was a riff on a character who was originally Swedish.

Image credit: YouTube

2

SpongeBob is played by Tom Kenny

Kenny plays many characters, including SpongeBob from SpongeBob SquarePants, the mayor from Powerpuff Girls, and the Ice King on Adventure Time. So where did the voice for SpongeBob come from? Kenny told Marc Maron it was inspired by an actor auditioning to be one of Santa's elves.

Image credit: YouTube

3

The voice in many airports and subways is Carolyn Hopkins

Based in northern Maine, Hopkins records many of the announcement messages for transportation systems. She can be heard in more than 200 airports, in weather warnings, and on many subways. She has said that imitating her father's booming voice helped her develop her own technique.

Image credit: YouTube

4

Nintendo's Mario is by Charles Martinet

For more than 20 years, Martinet has played video games' iconic Italian plumber. He attributes his casting to his cute, counterintuitive take on the part: instead of sounding tough, he sounded sweet to appeal to kids. In case you were curious, yes, he has also played Wario, Mario's evil antagonist.

Image credit: YouTube

5

The original movie trailer voice guy was Don LaFontaine

LaFontaine has the iconic gravelly sound that defined movies and commercials for a generation. He began as a recording engineer and producer, then moved on to the silver screen. Before he died in 2008, he said he had narrated more than 5,000 movie trailers.

Image credit: YouTube

6

Big Bird has been played by Caroll Spinney for decades

Spinney started working for Sesame Street in 1969, and since then, he became famous as the voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. As both voice artist and puppeteer, Spinney truly embodied Big Bird. His story is told in the documentary I Am Big Bird.

Image credit: YouTube

7

Dora the Explorer's Dora is currently Fátima Ptacek

Ptacek is actually the third actor to play Dora. She's done it since 2010. The character is unique in that she's voiced by real kids rather than by an adult. To "become" Dora, Ptacek gives her speech higher energy (and, as with the previous Doras, it helps that Ptacek is bilingual).

Image credit: YouTube

8

Optimus Prime from the Transformers series is played by Peter Cullen

Cullen provides the authoritative voice for Optimus Prime in the Transformers movies — and has also played Winnie the Pooh's Eeyore. The Transformers franchise is rare in its use of voice actors instead of celebrities, and Cullen has an impressive résumé.

Image credit: YouTube

9

The original Scooby Doo crew was played by a team of actors — including Don Messick as Scooby

To run through the team in the Mystery Van: Don Messick played Scooby, Casey Kasem played Shaggy, Frank Welker played Fred, Nicole Jaffe played Velma, and Heather North played Daphne. The team stayed together for many Scooby Doo incarnations on TV and in video.

Image credit: YouTube

10

AOL's "You've Got Mail" guy was Elwood Edwards

Edwards was the man millions of AOL users heard in the '90s. He recorded the messages on a cassette desk in his living room (so there is a reason it sounds so bad). It was supposed to be just a test, but AOL stuck with Edwards, so his became the recognizable voice.

Image credit: YouTube

11

The original voice of Siri was Susan Bennett

Bennett says she pitches her voice a little deeper and focuses on consistency so the computer can properly stitch her syllables together. You can read more about her technique here.

Image credit: YouTube

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