Most film fans would acknowledge Citizen Kane as one of Orson Welles’ greatest achievements, but then you’d be forgetting his part in the animated film The Transformers: The Movie. That’s right. It may have been Welles’ last film, but what a role it was. Playing the Planet Eater, the Lord of Chaos himself, Unicron brought a surprisingly dark edge to the otherwise beloved Transformers series. Welles was not the only shocking cast member; Leonard Nimoy voiced Galvatron, but how many other famous actors have stepped out of their comfort zone for more obscure undertakings?
To mark the 30th Anniversary limited edition Steelbook release of The Transformers: The Movie from Manga Entertainment, available from 12 December, here is a list of those very individuals.
Vin Diesel as the Iron Giant
Some of you may have been surprised to find out that Vin Diesel voiced Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy with the famous line ‘I am Groot’. However, you might be more surprised to discover that this was not Diesel’s first time playing a friendly giant. He voiced another giant in Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant (1999). As an alien that crash lands on Earth and discovers humanity through the unlikely friendship of a young boy, The Fast and Furious actor is actually a big softie stirring so many emotions.
Bruce Willis as Spike
Action man Bruce Willis probably didn’t envision acting in a 1990s kids TV show turned film, but he voiced Spike, the dog from Rugrats in the film Rugrats Go Wild (2003). It was still an adventure film, so not too far outside of Willis’s comfort zone, just with a few less explosions. He adds a bit of sass to the previously incoherent character that makes it an improvement to the cast.
Tim Curry as Nigel Thornberry
Willis was not the only obscure actor in Rugrats Go Wild as the film also features Tim Curry voicing Nigel Thornberry, wildlife documentary film maker extraordinaire. Curry was well disguised behind that large nose and moustache exaggerating his nasally voice (a look that was apparently based on David Attenborough). His infamous line “smashing” and distinct appearance have since become a popular meme and ingrained in the memories of many.
Sean Bean as Tracie
Who can imagine the gruff voiced northerner Sean Bean, well-known for his role as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones and Boromir in The Lord of the Rings, playing something other than a stern man with a troubled past? Bean demonstrated his versatility when he swapped his sword for a pair of heels and glitzy dress in an episode of Accused playing the transvestite ‘Tracie’. It seems crazy, for you’re probably more likely to find him brooding at the bar of your local pub spitting out the word ‘bastard’ over and over, but he really captured the complexity of the character and puts in a performance that saw him win a Royal Television Society award.
Peter Jackson as Santa
Perhaps one of the more recognised cameos once word got out: but after Peter Jackson’s multiple Lord of the Rings cameos, the natural progression is Santa in Hot Fuzz (2007). Edgar Wright seemed to enjoy the irony of giving small roles to big names, and also gave a small part to Oscar winner Cate Blanchett in the film as Nicholas Angel’s ex-girlfriend. Not an easy one to spot since her face is hidden behind a mask during the brief moment.
Gary Oldman as Drexl
Quentin Tarantino may have penned True Romance (1993) but it was Top Gun director Tony Scott who made it what it has become. This cult classic starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette also features a certain Gary Oldman. Following his role in Oliver Stone’s groundbreaking JFK, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, both Scott and Oldman’s character, Drexl, demanded a little more absurdity out of him.
The 30th Anniversary limited edition Steelbook of The Transformers: The Movie is released on Monday 12th December.