Having had their own television series and a straight-to-DVD movie, the Penguins of Madagascar have finally won their own big screen outing and it’s recently been announced that John Malkovich – playing a villain – and Benedict Cumberbatch – a CIA agent – will be joining the cast.

Big name actors voicing cartoon characters is a relatively new trend. Although there were some big names behind early cartoons (did you know that Walt Disney voiced Steamboat Willie?), it wasn’t until Robin Williams provided the voice for the Genie in 1992’s Aladdin that it became fashionable for A list actors to work in animated features.

Although children might not care where they’ve heard that voice before, the adults who pay for them to see the film do and a big name on the cast list can make the difference between success and failure for a feature length animation. Here are some major stars who’ve provided the voices for some of the best loved cartoon characters of recent years.

Mike Meyers – Shrek

The highest grossing animated franchise of all time, the Shrek series of four films (plus television features and Puss in Boots, a spin off based on one of the characters), made history when the first in the series, Shrek, became the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Initially, Chris Farley, most famous for Saturday Night Live, was cast as the grumpy ogre living in a swamp who is reluctantly convinced to rescue a princess. Sadly, Farley died before he could complete recording, so Mike Myers was brought in for the part. Myers decided that Shrek needed a Scottish accent (because it ‘just felt right’) and thus one of the best loved cartoon characters of all time was born.

Shrek was loved by critics and fans alike, for being the perfect children’s film whilst containing enough subtle adult material to amuse parents. Shrek himself has the honour of his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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  • Jillian Joyce Aarsvold

    Knew all of these already.