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The Smurfs: Will the Original Voice Actors Have Parts in the Movie?

The Smurfs movieThere’s no doubt that the characters in the film adaptation of The Smurfs will be played by an all-star cast. We already know that Comedian Jonathan Winters is voicing Papa Smurf, pop-singer Katy Perry will provide the voice of Smurfette, TV host George Lopez will perform Grouchy Smurf, and Broadway star Alan Cumming will be voicing an all-new character, Gutsy Smurf. Quentin Tarantino was in talks to play Brainy Smurf but that apparently won’t be happening now.

We also know that a few characters will be live and not cartoon, similar to the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Hank Azaria will play a live Gargamel, Neil Patrick Harris will appear as Johan, an expectant father whose life changes once he meets the Smurfs, and Jayma Mays will play his pregnant wife.

But, what about the voice talent of the original Smurfs cartoon? Some of the best voice talent in the business provided the voices of these small blue creatures — names like Don Messick, Lucille Bliss, Frank Welker, Danny Goldman, June Foray, Michael Bell, William Callaway, Hamilton Camp, Alan Oppenheimer, Alan Young, and Paul Winchell. Weren’t these voices a key to the original cartoon’s success? While some of the performers are no longer with us, doesn’t it make sense to give them some type of role in the new film?

We recently had the opportunity to speak with two of these voice talents to get their take on it.

Michael Bell provided the voice of Handy Smurf and Lazy Smurf and has been performing voices for hundreds of cartoons and video games since The Jetsons in 1962. His resume includes Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Super Friends, G.I. Joe, and several Scooby-Doo series.

Bell said he felt he was speaking for all the actors who provided voices of the Smurfs, as well as their director, Gordon Hunt, when he said they “would love to be part of the film.” However, he doesn’t see it happening, noting that he and his comrades “are resigned to the fact that their living has been usurped by on-camera celebrities… many of whom are hired for their own familiar voice (i.e.: Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Demi Moore, Susan Sarandon, Johnny Depp, etc.).”

He continued, “These actors are not prepared or equipped to render more than one voice, theirs, for a fee way beyond that which those of us who do this for a living (our only living) are provided. Our salary is usually minimum although we are imposed to create at least three characters.”

Bell wanted to point out that fans wrote to Michael Bay, executive producer of The Transformers movies, and insisted that Peter Cullen revise his character, Optimus Prime, for the movie versions. Bay did indeed include him and will supposedly be including the legendary Frank Welker in the next movie as well. Bell considers that “a smart move” for Bay.

Danny Goldman, who provided the voice of Brainy Smurf, has brought many other characters to life both on-camera and in animated shows for 40 years. He’s reprised his role as Brainy for Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken a few times.

Goldman says he hasn’t heard anything about the upcoming film. He adds that he is assuming it will be filled with stars, and that he thinks that’s just what they have to do. However, he said, “If they contacted me or our cast to offer cameos, that would be very classy. But I am not holding my breath.”

What do you think? Should the producers offer the surviving Smurf voice actors roles in the new movie?

 

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

joe kennedy March 14, 2011 at 7:15 pm

The celebrity ‘voice’ actors would not have this gig without the formidable talents of the celebrity voice actors that preceded them. Let’s flip this movie and give the original celebrity voice actors the major parts and the celebrity ‘voice’ actors minor ones.

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Laurie Turner March 13, 2011 at 7:09 pm

The new Smurfs movie should have the surviving Voice Over Actors/Actresses from the original 1980′s series. They are not being given the credit where credit is due for their wonderful multi-talented voices. There is no way Katie Perry can do justice to Smurfette, that is Lucille Bliss’s grounds. I worked with Miss. Bliss in San Francisco and she is a wonderful, talented lady. She and others deserve recognition for the voices that they did when working on The Smurfs in the 1980′s.

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Tom Tucker July 3, 2010 at 11:32 am

This movie is an insult to anyone and everyone who worked on the original and to those of us who grew up watching them. Without the original voices and familiar surroundings it might as well not be a Smurf movie at all. It’s more proof that Hollywood has no respect for original creations and cannot create even a new or decent premise on classic characters.

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Chicago Sugano July 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Yes Tom Tucker, Hollywood has lost all respect for the Arts & the Artists.
It’s all about sensationalism & MONEY$.

Pity the veterans of the Animations & Classic Cartoons and just swept under the
rug like scraps of debris. SHAME ON YOU GREEDY HOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS!

Lucille Bliss is DA Bomb and she is alive & well residing in Orange County and wants
a VO gig.

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Macie Meeks November 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm

This is exactly what I thought. All of these Hollywood people are ruining the old cartoons and are hiring talentless people to do the voices instead of all the wonderful actors who deserve the rolls.

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Jacob Smith April 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I would love to hear those old voices to bring back memories.

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Anonymous July 31, 2011 at 6:28 am

I didn’t know there was a Mexican smurf in the village jeorge Lopez really????

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nubomb turk April 9, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I don’t think it will work. In all cartoons that go over well, we get used the the characters having certain voices. When they are changed, they don’t sound right and it’s like the cartoon character is new and something other than the one we all grew to love.

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Elizabeth Sullivan July 11, 2010 at 5:16 pm

However, most of the people who did not grow up watching the original show won’t really care or have memories to compare to.

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Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 7:39 am

I tend to agree when we’re talking about a major cartoon character especially one with a distinct voice. Bugs Bunny is a perfect example…for me the ‘voice’ of that character is what Mel Blanc gave the character for decades and it’s that kind of voice that I want to hear coming out of the character’s mouth. The main reason a lot of Mel’s voices are difficult to duplicate is because he used his natural voice as a basis for nearly everything he did. Joe Alaskey is a good voice actor and his take on Sylvester is uncanny in it’s similarity to Mel’s voice.

Don Messick originated the voice of Papa Smurf and Azrael and it’s difficult hearing a different voice for Papa Smurf after being used to Messick. Jonathan Winters in my mind is a natural for voice acting because if one were to watch his classic stand up comedy routines you can close your eyes and listen to him talk and he’d slip in all kinds of voices and sound effects. His style lent itself perfect for cartoons.

Paul Winchell had this one of a kind style of voice which I think a lot of voice actors find hard to duplicate…he did Tigger, of course, and then there’s Gargamel which is the voice he applied to Dick Dastardly as well. Winchell’s main dummy, Jerry Mahoney, had a similar vocal with Gargamel/Dastardly and if anyone’s seen Winchell’s ventriloquist act the voice he uses will be recognizable right away. Winchell could also do a gangster voice which he applied to the characters of Clyde on the “Penelope Pitstop” and “Wacky Races” series and as the Moe Howard character in the “Robonic Stooges”.

I’ve seen mention Michael Bell and Lucille Bliss and others from the original cast…along with Alan Oppenheimer, Alan Young, and Frank Welker as well…I’m leaving out a lot obviously…there were a LOT of Smurfs!!

The only thing I can think of and I know it’s probably been said already but my guess is these big budget cartoon/CGI things are treated like potential blockbusters that the studio’s want movie-going audiences to recognize the names of the people providing the voices and hopefully that translates into revenue. In other words they want the celebrity name to carry the cartoon.

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Rockin' Smurf April 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Not to knock the people who are doing the voices in the Smurfs movie (and not to blame them for taking the role – I’m sure it’s an honor for some of them), but I agree – it is VERY sad that the cartoon business has to be just about that now – business – selling a movie due to the on screen celebrities doing the voices. As Michael Bell said, the REAL voice actors would be paid less, and do more voices. It would be a win/win (because they do AMAZING work – just think back to your childhood and how real and wonderful the characters were and are). But instead, they want to have “big name” stars so that people come see it. It’s disgusting! True, we don’t have to accept this garbage by going to see it. But still, it’s sad that it’s going to exist at all – tarnishing the legacy terribly. The ONLY good thing about it is that Jonathan Winters will be back. He played Grandpa Smurf originally, and now he plays Papa Smurf. I know one could argue that Mr. Winters (due to his amazing live action work) still is an on screen celebrity who (in the 1980′s) was taking a role a voice actor could have done…but as far as I know, only he and Paul Winchell were seen on television and/or movies. I think the rest were voice actors who made their living that way, as Michael Bell said – and this new movie is just…a real shame, aside from the massive talent of legendary screen and voice actor Jonathan Winters!

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Erika April 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I think its cute to see a movie with the smurfs but I do agree I think they should have brought the original voices back if the actors wanted to come back.

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Chris April 1, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I understand that since Don Messick and Paul Winchell have now passed on, their characters would need new actors, as you can’t have The Smurfs without Papa Smurf or Gargamel. However, I think it is disappointing that while she is still alive, Lucille Bliss wasn’t considered for returning for this. She gave Smurfette an unmistakable voice that really matched her sweet personality in the cartoon, made her very likeable, and it’s a voice that’s pretty hard to imitate. Nobody can replace Lucille in that role. However, I definitely think the original Brainy Smurf should be present in the movie. Tarantino would have been fun, but Danny Goldman was perfect as him and since he still voices Brainy in Robot Chicken, there’s no reason to search for a replacement.

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chetlem July 3, 2011 at 1:14 pm

i think mo rocca should voice brainy smurf

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Orion March 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I’m looking forward to The Smurfs… and I would so love to see a scene where one of the Smurfs in the new movie looked out into the distance and saw the the people who originally voiced the characters. That would be Smurftastic!

Though I wouldnt even know what the original people look like unless it was pointed out to me! LOL

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