The Guy Who Did the Voice for Optimus Prime Also Did the Voice for Eeyore and Was the First Person to Voice Nintendo’s Mario

Today I found out the guy who did the voice for Optimus Prime also did the voice for Eeyore, in the Winnie-the-Pooh series, and was the first person to voice Nintendo’s Mario character.

The man is Canadian voice actor Peter Cullen.  Cullen not only did the voice of Optimus Prime in the original Transformers series, but he also did the voice of Optimus Prime in the 2007 Transformers, 2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and the upcoming 2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  He also did the voice of Optimus Prime in the Transformers: War for Cybertron video game.

According to Cullen, he based the voice of Optimus Prime on his older brother Larry who was a captain in the United States Mariner Corps during Vietnam and who came back from the war significantly changed.  Cullen looked up to his brother and considered him a hero.  So, when given the opportunity to do the voice of a superhero, he modeled it after Larry, not just in voice, but also applying Larry’s post-war demeanor to the character.

Among his other voice acting work, Cullen also did the voice of Ironhide in the original Transformers series, KARR in Knight Rider, Zandar in G.I. Joe and a myriad of other characters in such shows as: Duck Tales, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Adventures of Captain Planet, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Garfield and Friends, Darkwing Duck, The Jetsons, and Gremlins, among many others.

Bonus Facts:

  • Interestingly, the guy who does the voice for Optimus Prime in Japan, Tesshō Genda, also does a Winnie-the-Pooh character in Japan, specifically, Tigger.  Genda also does the voice of Optimus Prime in the Japanese version of the Michael Bay’s Transformers film series.
  • Eeyore’s name is based off the British Cockney dialect version of the phrase “hee-haw”.
  • Most of the characters and names in Winnie the Pooh were based on creator A.A. Milne’s son’s toys and stuffed animals with the exception of Owl, Rabbit, and Gopher.  The character of Christopher Robin himself was based on Milne’s son Christopher Robin Milne.  Christopher Robin Milne’s toy teddy bear, who Winnie the Pooh was created after, is currently on display in the New York Public Library.
  • Christopher Robin Milne named his teddy bear Winnie after a Canadian black bear he saw at the Zoo in London.  The real life black bear was in turn named after the hometown of the person who captured the bear, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, who was from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The bear ended up in the London Zoo after Colebourn was sent to England during WWI and was later sent to France where he was unable to bring the bear so gave it to the London Zoo temporarily and later decided to make it a permanent donation after the bear became one of the Zoo’s top draws.  The “Pooh” part of the name was supposedly after a black swan that Christopher Robin Milne saw while on holiday.  A black swan named Pooh also appears in the Winnie-the-Pooh series.
  • Christopher Robin Milne greatly resented his father for, in his view, exploiting his childhood in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.  These stories ultimately got Christopher made fun of greatly at school and resulted in significant public attention once he became an adult, which he also resented.
  • Interestingly, A.A. Milne himself was taught by none other than H.G. Wells from 1889-1890 at the school Milne attended which was run by Milne’s father.
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