15 Perfect Live Action Castings Of Cartoon Characters

POSTED BY Tayyab Khalil, UPDATED ON November 16th, 2023
Perfect Live Action Castings of Cartoon Characters

The movie industry has released film adaptations of novels, autobiographies, comic books, true stories, and even animated series. Playing an original character is hard enough but a cartoon character is even harder. Though such adaption often bombs at the box office, it is interesting to see how some of the actors were able to make a perfect impression of the cartoon characters. Take a look at the most perfect live-action castings of cartoon characters:


15. Dolph Lundgren as He-Man

Dolph Lundgren as He-Man

As a child, cartoon fanatics were glued to their television screens to watch Masters of the Universe hero He-Man and his team defending the realm of Eternia. Super strength, admirable acrobatic skills, and genius-level intellect, the superhero had it all.

He-Man had three successful animated series but its movie adaption could not have the same fate. Though the film was a critical and commercial failure, Dolph Lundgren was able to portray a pretty decent He-Man.


14. Rachael Leigh Cook as Josie

Rachael Leigh Cook as Josie

Produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Saturday morning television, Josie and the Pussycats were probably the very first pop band every child laid their eyes on, and a good one too.

Consisting of Josie the lead guitarist and vocalist, Valerie the tambourine player, and Melody the drummer, the group had their movie adaption as well with Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, and Tara Reid playing the roles, respectively.

Among all the actors who portrayed the cartoon characters from the animated show, it was the leading actress Cook as Josie who gave the most accurate performance.


13. David Lewis as Denzel Crocker

David Lewis as Denzel Crocker

Nickelodeon fans were overjoyed when it was announced that a live-action television movie would be released on the animated series The Fairly Odd Parents.

Starring Drake Bell and Daniella Monet as Timmy Turner and Tootie, the movie was able to have a cast of everyone portraying their cartoon counterparts with great accuracy.

If it had to be narrowed down, David Lewis probably did the best job by portraying Denzel Crocker, the fairy-obsessed teacher of Timmy Turner. The actor reprised the role for the sequel A Fairly Odd Christmas as well.


12. Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer

Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer

The idea of a live-action adaption of the Japanese anime and manga series Speed Racer goes way back to 1992 but thanks to the Wachowski Brothers, it was finally realized and released in 2008.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shia LaBeouf were considered for the title character role but it ultimately went to Emile Hirsch who gave a fantastic performance.

Taking the role too seriously, Hirsch watched every episode of the Speed Racer series and even visited Lowe’s Motor Speedway where he met professional stock car racing driver Jimmie Johnson. It’s surely one of the best cartoon live-action movies of recent times.


11. Neel Sethi as Mowgli

Neel Sethi as Mowgli

Image Copyright: 2015 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Walt Disney Pictures is about to give a live-action treatment to one of its finest animated movies, the Jungle Book. Though the movie has a lot of big names such as Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken, and Idris Elba, the starring lead belongs to rookie Neel Sethi.

It is his very first film. Chosen among thousands of kids who auditioned for the role, the 10-year-old was chosen to play the man-cub Mowgli and as the movie trailers show, he bears a strong resemblance with his cartoon counterpart.


10. John Goodman as Fred Flintstone

John Goodman as Fred Flintstone in The Flintstones

Despite being one of the best products of Hanna-Barbera Productions, The Flintstones proved that it is another one of the cartoon shows that cannot survive a film adaption.

Though the movie visibly showed that a lot of effort was put into making the environments and dinosaurs purely accurate concerning the animated series, it failed to get favorable reviews.

On the bright side, the cast was praised for the portrayals of their characters, and leading actor John Goodman surely acted as if the cartoon character Fred Flintstone had been brought to life.


9. Charlize Theron as Æon Flux

Charlize Theron as Æon Flux

MTV was able to produce one of the sexiest yet most violent assassins who can even give Lora Craft a tough time. Going by the name of Æon Flux, the character was an anarchist who was attractive yet deadly. With controversial sexual elements such as fetishism and domination, the show impressively ran for three seasons.

When a film adaptation was planned, Charlize Theron stepped forward to portray the seductive assassin. Fresh off an Academy Award victory for Best Actress, Theron played the role elegantly and magnificently but that still did not stop the movie from being a box office bomb.


8. James Deen as Glenn Quagmire

James Deen as Glenn Quagmire

When an adult parody of Family Guy was underway, only one guy could have portrayed the sex-starved Glenn Quagmire accurately, and that’s none other than James Deen.

Despite being a pornographic movie, the actor was able to create a sense of humor with the character’s mannerisms he is so famous for and is definitely among the best live-action casting choices for cartoon characters.


7. Angelina Jolie as Maleficent

Perfect Live Action Castings of Cartoon Characters

Image Copyright: Disney Enterprises

The story of Sleeping Beauty is one of the greatest fairy tales of all time and the fans could not have been happier when Disney announced a spin-off film-adaption of the antagonist Maleficent. The best part of all: the leading part was not going to be portrayed by some C-list actor but by Hollywood megastar Angelina Jolie.

As a retelling of the story from Maleficent’s point of view, the movie was a big success and Jolie’s performance was spectacular as always. Producer Joe Roth firmly believed that the movie would not have been made if the actress had not agreed to take the role as he states:

“She seemed like the only person who could play the part. There was no point in making the movie if it wasn’t her.”


6. Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil

Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil

As the first live-action remake of one of its animated movies, Disney had to be extra careful when casting was under process for 101 Dalmatians. Sigourney Weaver and Cathy Moriarty were considered for the role of antagonist Cruella de Vil but it ultimately went to Glenn Close.

Despite being the frightening Dalmation fur-obsessed villainess, Close stole the spotlight from every other actor because of her great acting and even reprised the role for the sequel 102 Dalmatians.


5. Matthew Lillard as Shaggy Rogers

Matthew Lillard as Shaggy Rogers

Even millions of Scooby-Doo fans did not find the live-action adaption of the famous Mystery Gang worth a while. Having a cast of Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard, and even Rowan Atkinson, the movie received unfavorable reviews but was able to earn a lot at the box office.

The cast certainly deserves a round of applause for their accurate portrayals of the Mystery Gang especially Lillard who played a spot-on Shaggy Rogers and even reprised the role along with the rest of the cast for the sequel.


4. Noah Ringer as Avatar Aang

Noah Ringer as Avatar Aang

For a Caucasian actor, Noah Ringer played a convincing Asian. With his head shaved, his resemblance with Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon character Aang was exceptionally uncanny.

With a weak plot and overdose of visual effects, The Last Airbender is considered to be one of the worst movies ever made but it did make a ton of money. Earning $319.7 million, the movie is currently the third highest-grossing Nickelodeon movie ever.


3. Robin Williams as Popeye

Robin Williams as Popeye

As one of the most iconic cartoon characters of its time, Popeye the Sailor Man was a global icon and is probably the only reason kids are willing to eat vegetable spinach. However, its movie adaptation was anything but good as it received mixed to negative reviews.

Still, the movie was able to produce one of the greatest performances of legendary actor Robin Williams. From smoking pipe to hyper-activeness, the actor showcased an extremely precise portrayal of the beloved cartoon character. Vanity Fair called it the best movie Williams ever made.


2. Kenan Thompson as Fat Albert

Kenan Thompson as Fat Albert

Long before Kenan Thompson rocked television on Saturday Night Live or Nickelodeon sitcom Kenan & Kel, the comedian starred in the movie adaption of Fat Albert as the leading character of the same name.

Based upon Bill Cosby’s animated series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, the movie was a unique live-action film as it featured the animated Albert and his gang coming out of the television and transforming into humans.


1. Graham Phillips as Ben Tennyson

Graham Phillips as Ben Tennyson

The 10-year-old superhero Ben Tennyson is undoubtedly one of the best cartoon characters today and the sky-rocketing sales of his merchandise are proof of that.

Created by a team of animators known as Man of Action, Ben 10 has successfully launched four animated series, two animated movies, and two live-action films. Casting the leading part was not at all an easy task and that is where Graham Phillips comes in.

With a short-acting experience, Phillips was chosen to portray Tennyson and precisely showed a balance between managing the responsibilities of a superhero while dealing with petty issues as a kid; exactly how the lovable character exhibits in his human form.

Hope you like our list of perfect live-action castings of cartoon characters. Feel free to share your views in the comments below!

One Comment

  1. Andrew Shell says:

    Ron Perlman as Hellboy

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