Skip To Content

    23 Actors Who Gave The Performance Of A Lifetime With Nothing But Their Voice

    Just because you couldn't see them on screen doesn't mean they weren't acting the heck out of these roles.

    We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about the most iconic voice-only performances that they've ever seen. Here are the ones they mentioned as the best of the best!

    It's important to note that a lot of these performances are rendered on screen via cartoon or CGI, and they wouldn't be possible without the amazing work of animators and artists!

    1. James Earl Jones as Mufasa (twice!) in The Lion King...

    Getty Images/Disney

    "I remember him as Mufasa in the animated version as a kid and now as an adult in the live-action version. He brings those words of wisdom to life! 'While others search for what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give.' Chills!"

    caysiestorkt

    ...and also as Darth Vader in Star Wars.

    Getty Images/Lucasfilm

    "The memory of hearing Vader's voice in the theater still gives me chills. Honestly, James Earl Jones could tell me to go 'F' myself and I'd still get goosebumps."

    katied47fd64e0d

    2. Robin Williams as Genie in Aladdin

    Getty Images/Disney

    "His wide vocal range gave us so many variations of the character, and his endless hilarity gave it such warmth... Apparently, he would go on hours-long improvisations in his sound booth, and it took the animators forever to dwindle them down to what they would use in the movie. Such a talent!"

    bethancrowther

    3. Alan Rickman as Marvin in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    Getty Images/Touchstone Pictures

    It's important to note that Marvin was played by two people, since Warwick Davis provided the physical performance of the most adorable depressed robot to ever live. But Alan Rickman's voice work as the little guy was an absolutely perfect mix of sad and funny.

    4. Kristen Bell in Frozen II

    Getty Images/Disney

    "Idina Menzel might have the more memorable songs overall, but Kristen legitimately sounds like she is sobbing and choking on her grief through 'The Next Right Thing.'"

    leoness13

    5. Ali Wong as Bertie in Tuca and Bertie

    Getty Images/Netflix

    Ali Wong is a comedian, but the dramatic scene when Bertie talks about how she was assaulted as a teenager is as poignant and moving as it is because of her performance.

    6. Zachary Levi as Flynn Ryder in Tangled

    Getty Images/Disney

    "He created such a perfectly lovable douchebag, and his voice is immediately recognizable. The dialogue was already great, but his personality really came through in his vocal inflection and made it even better."

    lianar4792e2448

    7. Maya Rudolph as Connie the Hormone Monstress in Big Mouth

    Getty Images/Netflix

    The moment Connie said the words "bubble bath," she became the best character on Big Mouth, and every word she says is hilarious thanks to Maya Rudolph.

    8. Tom Hanks as Woody in Toy Story

    Getty Images/Disney

    "Tom Hanks as Sheriff Woody: A good, wholesome person playing a good, wholesome character. It's just perfect casting and every line is delivered perfectly."

    emmanz

    9. Mark Hamill as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series

    Getty Images/Cartoon Network

    "Mark Hamill just is the Joker. He’s played the role more than any other actor across TV, movies, and video games. He brings nuance and mania to a character that often can be one-note but without the benefit of a long movie or overarching plot. He also finds new places to take the performance so it’s never dull or familiar, which is necessary for a character like the Joker."

    radicallexicon

    10. Donna Murphy as Mother Gothel in Tangled

    Getty Images/Disney

    "I always loved singing, but it wasn’t until I heard her sing “Mother Knows Best” that I realized you need to put emotion and emphasis on what you’re singing to make it enjoyable for others. Her vocal skills are flawless and she never gets off-key, even when she changes the way her voice sounds through singing. Perfection."

    mellyquartz

    11. Dante Basco as Prince Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender

    Getty Images/Nickelodeon

    "His voice is so distinct, and even though other actors have played Zuko, he’s the only one who really feels like the character."

    dottie_wan_kenobi

    12. Scarlett Johansson as Samantha in Her

    Getty Images/Annapurna Pictures

    A lot of people thought Scarlett Johansson should have been nominated for an Oscar for her voice-only performance in Her, and it's hard to disagree with them. Samantha was a fully fledged character, and without ScarJo, the whole premise of the film would have fallen flat.

    13. Jeremy Irons as Scar in The Lion King

    Getty Images/Disney

    "So low-key threatening and just dripping with disdain for everyone around him. Also sexy AF, if I'm being honest."

    deandrareynolds

    14. Gael García Bernal as Héctor in Coco

    Getty Images/Disney

    "He really did everything in this role. He was funny, emotional, whimsical, and poignant."

    gaelicmaiden

    15. Anthony Mendez as the Narrator in Jane the Virgin

    Getty Images/The CW

    Other than Rogelio, the Narrator on Jane the Virgin had the funniest lines and his intense telenovela voice made everything he said sound super important. Plus, the final reveal (which I won't spoil here) about who the Narrator is ties the series together perfectly.

    16. Eartha Kitt as Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove

    Getty Images/Disney

    "Eartha Kitt’s voice work as Yzma actually made me gain a whole new level of respect for her. At her age and with her credentials, she could have easily turned down a role in an animated movie or seen it as beneath her. Not only did she do it, but she brought her A-game. She didn’t phone anything in, and gave us, IMO, one of the best and funniest Disney Villains."

    gaelicmaiden

    17. Aaron Paul as Todd in BoJack Horseman

    Getty Images/Netflix

    Even though Todd is relatively similar to Jesse Pinkman — both young slackers who have to deal with narcissists who are mean to them — the two could not sound more different even though Aaron Paul is the actor behind both of them. He's the heart of BoJack, and it's hard to think of anybody else embodying the character.

    18. Pat Carroll as Ursula in The Little Mermaid

    Getty Images/Disney

    The list of amazing Disney Villain performances is loooong (four of them are on this list!), but Pat Carroll's raspy tones as Ursula are DEFINITELY near the top.

    19. Eddie Murphy as Donkey in Shrek

    Getty Images/DreamWorks

    "Forever iconic. He just nails the lovable, annoying, ride-or-die sidekick."

    feliciam4fcc173df

    20. Douglas Rain as HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey

    Stanley Kubrick Productions

    "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." HAL was just a red dot on a computer and a monotone voice, but that doesn't mean he wasn't as threatening and scary as any other movie villain.

    21. Paul Bettany as J.A.R.V.I.S. in the MCU

    Getty Images/Marvel

    As cool as Vision was, it was kind of disappointing when he was created and Paul Bettany was no longer the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. He was a critical part of the Iron Man movies, and no offense to F.R.I.D.A.Y., but Paul Bettany's voice was the perfect scene partner for RDJ.

    22. Keith David as Goliath in Gargoyles

    Getty Images/Disney

    Before he was the voice of Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog, Keith David was Goliath in Gargoyles. He managed to make Goliath menacing, soulful, and sympathetic all at once.

    23. Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon in the MCU

    Getty Images/Marvel

    I'm still not entirely convinced this is Bradley Cooper's voice, but the world insists it is. How does he alter his voice like that without sacrificing any part of his performance? Must be a good actor or something.

    Did we leave out any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

    Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

    Not all submissions are from community users.

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form