Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Voice of Megatron

One of the biggest unanswered questions about the live-action Transformers movie has been, "Who's doing the voice of Megatron?"

Almost a year ago, it was announced that Peter Cullen would be doing the voice of Optimus Prime. Cullen, of course, did the voice of Optimus Prime on the original Transformers cartoon some 20 years ago. Cullen has still been active in the voice acting community, and "still has it."

So then, it was held in a high degree of optimism that Megatron's voice would be done by Frank Welker.

Welker, of course, is a legend in the voice acting community. He's been active in voice acting for almost 40 years. His first claim to fame was the voice of Freddy on Scooby-Doo. On Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, he was Iceman. On The Real Ghostbusters, he was Ray Stanz and Slimer. On Inspector Gadget, he was Brain, Mad Cat, and Dr. Claw. His most recent work is in the most recent Disney straight-to-video animated sequels.

And now, thanks to the miracle of DVD running commentaries, I've heard other animators sing his praises.

On the running commentary for Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, animators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, single out Welker's work, citing that he's Hollywood's "go to guy" for animal effects. "If it's just a little bit beyond what an animal can do, you go to Frank," says Timm. In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Welker voiced Hyena, one of the Joker's henchman who was genetically enhanced with Hyena DNA.

On the running commentary for several Futurama episodes, fellow voice actors Billy West and John DiMaggio (Fry and Bender, respectivly), refer to Welker as a god. On Futurama, Welker voiced Nibblen, Leela's pet and Guardian of the Universe.

On the running commentary for Disney's animated classic Aladdin, directors John Musker and Ron Clemments say that there's an old joke in the animation community.

"Frank Welker...what's he done?"

"Have you ever watched a cartoon?"


"He did that."

In Aladdin, Welker was the voice of Abu and the talking tiger's head that was the entrance to the Cave of Wonders.

Even one of my favourite directors, Kevin Smith, unknowingly sang Welker's praises. In the sixth and final episode of the Clerks cartoon, Welker did the voice of both President Bill Clinton and FBI agent, leading Smith to remark on the episode's running commentary, "I forget that guy's name, but damn, he was good."

So, it was with a twinge of sadness today, that it was learned that Frank Welker will not be reprising the voice of Megatron.

Who then, is taking the place of Welker? Which voice is more evil than the voice of Megatron, Dr. Claw, and the Devil himself (in the movie version of Spawn)?



Agent Smith.

Megatron is being voiced by Hugo Weaving.

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