Nixon as Skeletor? 7 Great Actors in Movies Promoting Toys
Every actor may dream of winning an Oscar, but it's safe to say not quite as many aspire to someday portray an action figure or video game character on the silver screen. This doesn't mean that only hacks end up playing He-Man, though. Quite a few great actors have lent their faces or voices to these feature-length commercials. Have a look at a few of our favorite thespians' forays into the toy aisle:
1. Frank Langella as Skeletor
Stage and screen actor Frank Langella has enjoyed a sterling career that has included two Tony nominations and worldwide acclaim for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon. He's also played Skeletor! When the popular Masters of the Universe toy line became a feature film in 1987, Langella lined up as He-Man's nemesis.
Langella later told reporters that Skeletor was one of his favorite parts ever and explained that he accepted the role because his young son was obsessed with He-Man at the time. Have a look at Langella's performance, and be sure to enjoy the special effects. I think you'll agree the snappy script is every bit as good as the one for Frost/Nixon.
2. Orson Welles in The Transformers: The Movie
Talk about a sour note to go out on.
Orson Welles' last theatrical role was voicing the antagonistic planet-eating robot Unicron in 1986's The Transformers: The Movie. Welles was so sick during the recording sessions that the film's sound crew actually had to run the illustrious actor's voice through a synthesizer to get a usable sound out of it.
For his part, Welles seemed to realize the role was absurd. He described it to his biographer as, "I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I'm destroyed. My plan to destroy Whoever-it-is is thwarted and I tear myself apart on the screen." Here's a look at Welles' final theatrical line:
3. Mickey Rooney in Care Bears
Mickey Rooney is one of the select group of actors who have won Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes, but that doesn't mean he was above shilling for the Care Bears. When the world's children demanded an animated Care Bears feature in 1985, who better to play the kindly narrator/orphanage proprietor than the former vaudeville star? Check him out here:
4. Burgess Meredith in G.I. Joe: The Movie
Meredith was beloved for his performances in Rocky as well as strong showings in a number of Otto Preminger movies. Even his performance as the Penguin in the Batman TV series was nearly perfect in its campy way. His voice work in 1987's G.I. Joe: The Movie? Not so much. Not even Burgess' enthusiastic readings could save the character Golobulus, who could best be described as "farfetched even by G.I. Joe standards." If you ever wanted to hear Meredith say, "fungusoid," here's your chance! (See a clip here.)
5. Dennis Hopper as King Bowser Koopa
Just because Dennis Hopper is known for his work in movies like Easy Rider, Blue Velvet, and Hoosiers doesn't mean that he takes himself too seriously. He's not afraid to tackle a meatier role like, say, a germophobic T-Rex descendant in a movie adaptation of a video game. In 1993, Hopper brought his considerable chops to the role of King Bowser Koopa in the big-screen version of the Super Mario Bros. franchise. Take a look for yourself; this scenery chewing makes Hopper's work in Waterworld feel like his turn in Apocalypse Now.
6. Jon Voight in Bratz
Voight's sterling resume speaks for itself: Midnight Cowboy, Deliverance, and a Best Actor Oscar for Coming Home. Something's telling me he doesn't get quite as excited when he talks about his role as Principal Dimly in 2007's Bratz. Yes, the Midnight Cowboy decided to try his hand at promoting dolls with massive noggins. A clip of Voight actually acting in the movie proved hard to come by, but skip to the 1:30 mark to hear his take on the film:
7. Drew Barrymore in Star Fairies
It wasn't all E.T. and partying for a young Drew Barrymore. She may not be in the same class as Frank Langella or Mickey Rooney, but she did voice a little girl in an animated movie to support Tonka's Star Fairies toy line in 1985. If you want to hear Barrymore, skip to about 1:20: