Peter Cullen

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For the Australian water scientist, see Peter Cullen (scientist).
Peter Cullen
Peter Cullen 2011.2.jpg
Cullen speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in 2011
Born Peter Claver Cullen
(1941-07-28) July 28, 1941 (age 73)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Occupation Voice actor
Years active 1962–present
Children Angus Cullen, Claire Cullen, Pilar E. Cullen

Peter Claver Cullen (born July 28, 1941) is a Canadian voice actor. He is best known as the original voice of Optimus Prime (as well as Ironhide) in the original 1980s Transformers animated series, and most other appearances, as well, and Eeyore in the Winnie-the-Pooh franchise. He also voiced Monterey Jack in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers from seasons one to three, and is also known for his contribution to the voice of The Predator in Predator. Starting in 2007, Peter Cullen has reprised his role as Optimus Prime in related Transformers media, starting with the first live-action film.[1]

Early life[edit]

Cullen was born on July 28, 1941 in Montreal, Quebec to Henry L. Cullen and Muriel McCann. He has three siblings: Michaela, Sonny, and Larry. He is a member of the first graduating class of the National Theatre School of Canada, which graduated in 1963.[2] His brother, Larry Cullen, was a retired Captain in the United States Marine Corps, and helped inspire the voice of Optimus Prime.[3] His sister, Michaela Tomlinson, is married to Frank Tomlinson.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

1960s–1970s[edit]

In 1968, he appeared as Giles with Joan Stuart as 'Penelope' in L'Anglaise, a CBC sitcom about a French-Canadian husband with an English-Canadian wife (CBC's Funny You Should Say That). He also performed a French-Canadian astronaut character named Commander Bi Bi Latuque alongside Ted Zeigler for the 1969 children's show, The Buddies on CFCF-TV in Montreal.[4] Cullen also honed his voice skills by working as a radio announcer, notably in his home town of Montreal on (then) MOR station CKGM doing the overnight and weekend swing shifts. He and Ted Zeigler also did some comedy sketch writing for the Sonny and Cher show.

From 1967 to 1969, he was the announcer for Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. In 1974, Cullen was a series regular and the announcer on The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show. He also lent his voice to a character in the album the Story of Halloween Horror in 1977.

As Optimus Prime[edit]

Cullen recalls auditioning for the role of the robot Optimus Prime at a casting house in Burbank, California, explaining that as he read Prime's character breakdown, he saw that it was "the opportunity of the year", and heeded his brother Larry's advice: "Peter, don't be a Hollywood hero, be a real hero. Real heroes don't yell and act tough; they are tough enough to be gentle, so control yourself."[3][5] Cullen later learned from his agent, Steve Tisherman, that he not only won the part of Prime, but also, to his surprise, the role of Ironhide as well, which he saw as a "home run".[3]

He has stated that Optimus is his favorite voice role, and that he based the voice of the Autobot leader on his older brother Larry, who served in Vietnam. "When he came home, I could see a change. He was quieter and he was a man and a hero to me," says the actor. "I watched him and listened to him. I'd never had an opportunity to do a superhero, and when that came, [that voice] just came right out of me and I sounded like Optimus."[6]

Cullen putting his handprints in wet concrete at the Optimus Prime Chinese Theatre Handprint Ceremony in September 2014

He has also stated that he had no idea of Prime's popularity until the character's controversial death in the 1986 animated film, as the studio had never given him fan letters from children addressed to Optimus. The public backlash over Optimus' death surprised producers greatly. Children were leaving the theaters because of the character's death. The writers temporarily revived the character for a single episode in Season 3 called "Dark Awakening". Initially, this was intended to be his final appearance, but after fan requests continued, "The Return of Optimus Prime", a two-part episode was produced. The original ending of "Dark Awakening" was altered in reruns to include a teaser about the return of the character.[citation needed]

Cullen reprised the role of Optimus Prime in the 2007 Transformers live-action film, and its sequels Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon, and Age of Extinction, as well as the video games based on them. He is contractually obligated to voice Optimus in at least two more sequels.[5]

Cullen again reprised his role as Optimus Prime in the video game Transformers: War for Cybertron, its sequel game Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and in the recent television series Transformers: Prime in 2010. His performance in the premiere season of Transformers: Prime earned him a nomination for a 2011 Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program category.

Other work[edit]

In the 1980s and the 1990s, Cullen appeared on a number of television shows. He has played Coran, Stride the Tiger Fighter, and King Alfor in the Lion Voltron series, the transforming spaceship/robot Ramrod in the 1980s anime series Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, Commander James Hawkins in the Vehicle Voltron series, Eeyore in the Winnie-the-Pooh series, KARR in Knight Rider, Antor and Bomba, and Gunner, in Dino-Riders, Airbourne, Nemesis Enforcer and Zandar in G.I. Joe, He played "Mantor/Mantys" in Coleco's 5 episode mini-series Sectaurs in 1986; Red Skull in the 1981 cartoon series of Spider-Man, Klaar and Zanzoar in Megas XLR and Mantus in The Pirates of Dark Water. He also had a voice part in the 1984 motion picture Gremlins, as a gremlin, and the first season of the 2008 Knight Rider series as KARR. He also did voicework in The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible series, notably as Japheth, one of Noah's sons in the "Noah's Ark" episode, and the King of Nineveh in the "Jonah" episode. He was well known by some as the main villain Venger in the animated series of Dungeons and Dragons. He played the evil sorcerer Renwick in the lesser known series Little Wizards and played Cindarr in the short-lived series Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.

Among many other television series and films, he has also lent his basso voice to many film trailers and television commercials, including announcing for the Toonami and You Are Here blocks on the Cartoon Network. Cullen spent some of his early professional years in Montreal as a radio announcer/DJ on CKGM; and as a character in a then-popular local television kids show. He acted the role of a French-Canadian astronaut, along with writer and his partner on the show, Ted Ziegler. Both Ziegler and Cullen were spotted in the credits and doing small cameo walk-ons in various comedic roles on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, as well as other network comedies of the era.

He voiced Nintendo's mascot Mario in the Donkey Kong segments on Saturday Supercade, making him the first person to ever provide a voice for the character.[citation needed]

Cullen has done voicework on drum and bass DJ Dieselboy's 2004 album, The Dungeonmaster's Guide, and narration on the 2013 album Tetragrammaton by the Dutch extreme metal band The Monolith Deathcult.[7] He also did voicework for the unreleased Blizzard Entertainment game Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans,[8] and provided narration for the Star Wars fan film series I.M.P.S.: The Relentless.[9]

Cullen is a voice announcer on Police Story 4: First Strike in advertisements for New Line Cinema.

Honors[edit]

At BotCon 2010, Hasbro named Cullen as one of the first four human inductees in the Transformers Hall of Fame for his role as the voice of Optimus Prime.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Cullen has three children: Angus, Claire, Pilar and three grandchildren.[citation needed]

Filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1962–63 The Jetsons Additional voices
1967 The Buddies Commander Bi Bi Latuque
1967–68 The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour Announcer
1969 Comedy Cafe
1970–71 Zut!
1971–74 The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour Himself / Various characters
1974 The Bobbie Gentry Show Announcer
1974 The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show Himself
1974 The Sonny Comedy Revue Himself / various characters
1975 Down Home Country Luke Warm
1976 The Wolfman Jack Show
1979 The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show Mighty Man
1979 Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Additional voices
1981 The Kwicky Koala Show
1981 The Smurfs Additional voices
1981 Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Hulk / Mysterio / Red Skull 2 episodes
1982 The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour Lucky
1982 Spider-Man Red Skull
1982 Meatballs and Spaghetti
1982 Pac-Man Sour Puss
1982 The Little Rascals Officer Ed / Pete the Pup
1982 Knight Rider K.A.R.R.
1983 Monchhichis Shreeker / Snitchitt / Gonker
1983 The Puppy's Further Adventures Lucky
1983 The Biskitts Dog Foot / Fang / Scratch
1983 Saturday Supercade Mario
1983 The Dukes Additional voices
1983–85 Dungeons & Dragons Venger
1984 Dragon's Lair Bertram
1984 Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats Additional voices
1984 Snorks Additional voices
1984–86 Rainbow Brite Murky Dismal
1984–85 Alvin and the Chipmunks Additional voices
1984–87 The Transformers Optimus Prime / Ironhide
1984 Voltron: Defender of the Universe Coran / King Alfor / Narrator
1984 Three's a Crowd Sports Announcer / Airline Captain 2 episodes
1985 The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo Maldor the Malevolent
1985 Challenge of the GoBots Spoiler / Tank / Pincher
1985 Muppet Babies Additional voices Episode: "Fozzie's Last Laugh"
1985 The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians Felix Faust Episode: "Brainchild/The Case of the Stolen Super Powers"
1985–86 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Airborne / Ramar / Zandar
1986 MoonDreamers Igon / various characters Episode: "Zodies on the Loose"
1986 Rambo: The Force of Freedom Sergeant Havoc
1986 Ghostbusters Eddie Spenser, Jr.
1986 Pound Puppies Captain Slaughter 4 episodes
1986 The New Adventures of Jonny Quest Patch Episode: "Peril of the Reptilian"
1986 Foofur Baby
1986 My Little Pony Captain Crabnasty Episode: "Fugitive Flowers"
1987–88 BraveStarr Dr. Whiston / Dr. Watson / Hack
1987–88 DuckTales Admiral Grimitz / Bankjob Beagle / Mad Dog McGirk / Lessdred
1987 The Little Wizards Renwick / various characters
1987 The Real Ghostbusters Doctor Destructo / Police Officer Episode: "Captain Steel Saves the Day"
1987 Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light Cindarr
1987–89 Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs Commander Eagle / Narrator / Nemesis
1988 Dino-Riders Gunner / Antor / Bomba Episode: "Toro Toro Torosaurus"
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Sorcerer TV Special
1988–91 The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Eeyore
1988–90 Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears Kerwin the Conqueror / Gritty
1988–89 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash / Mugger / Napoleon
1989 Rude Dog and the Dweebs Herman / Winston
1989–90 Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers Monterey Jack / additional voices
1990 TaleSpin Additional voices Episode: "It Came from Beneath the Sea Duck"
1990–93 Tom & Jerry Kids Additional voices
1990–91 Widget the World Watcher Bob the Poacher / Rooney Kangaroo / Gdunu
1991–93 The Pirates of Dark Water Mantus
1991 In Living Color Episode: "Dickie Peterson: Cherub of Justice"
1993 Bonkers Abominable Snowman / Mackey McSlime
1994 Hardball Fox Announcer Episode: "Lee's Bad, Bad Day"
1996 Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh Eeyore
2001–02 House of Mouse Eeyore
2004–05 Megas XLR Zanzoar / Klaar
2005–06 IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix Narrator Episode: "Time to Shine"
2007–10 My Friends Tigger & Pooh Eeyore
2009 Knight Rider K.A.R.R.
2009 Bizarre Dinosaurs Narrator
2010–2013 Transformers: Prime Optimus Prime / Vehicon
2012–present Transformers: Rescue Bots Optimus Prime
2015 Transformers: Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime

Film[edit]

Year Title Role
1970 Prologue Allen
1976 King Kong King Kong (voice only)[11]
1982 Heidi's Song Gruffle
1983 Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls Big Blue
1984 Voyage of the Rock Aliens 1359
1984 Gallavants Antonim
1984 Gremlins Mogwai / Gremlins
1985 Robotix
1985 Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines Arthur Ravenscroft
1985 Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer Various voices
1986 Voltron: Fleet of Doom Various voices
1986 Heathcliff: The Movie
1986 GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords Pincher / Tombstone / Stones
1986 My Little Pony: The Movie Grundle / Ahgg
1986 The Transformers: The Movie Optimus Prime (voice) / Ironhide (voice)
1987 G.I. Joe: The Movie Zandar / Nemesis Enforcer / Scientist
1987 Predator The Predator (voice)
1988 Yogi and the Invasion of the Space Bears Ranger Roubideux (voice)
1988 Rockin' with Judy Jetson Gruff / Commander Comsat / Bouncer
1989 Vytor: The Starfire Champion Myzor / Chief Eldor
1991 The Little Engine That Could Pete (voice)
1994 The Story of Christmas Ox (voice)
1997 Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin Eeyore (voice)
1999 Seasons of Giving Eeyore (voice)
2000 The Tigger Movie Eeyore (voice)
2001 Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse Eeyore (voice)
2002 A Very Merry Pooh Year Eeyore (voice)
2003 Piglet's Big Movie Eeyore (voice)
2004 Springtime with Roo Eeyore (voice)
2005 Pooh's Heffalump Movie Eeyore (voice)
2005 Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie Eeyore (voice)
2007 Transformers Optimus Prime (voice)
2008 Super Sleuth Christmas Movie Eeyore (voice)
2009 Tigger and Pooh and a Musical Too Eeyore (voice)
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime (voice)
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Optimus Prime (voice)
2013 Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters - Predacons Rising Optimus Prime (voice)
2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction Optimus Prime (voice)

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice
2003 Piglets Big Game Eeyore
2007 Transformers: The Game Optimus Prime
2007 Transformers Autobots Optimus Prime
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime
2009 Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Autobots Optimus Prime
2010 Transformers: War for Cybertron Optimus Prime
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Optimus Prime
2012 Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Optimus Prime
2012 Transformers: Prime – The Game Optimus Prime
2014 Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark Optimus Prime

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film/TV Show Result
2010 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Couple (shared with Shia LaBeouf and either Megan Fox or any "Transformer") Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Nominated
2011 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Transformers Prime Won
2012 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Ensemble (shared with the entire cast) Transformers: Dark of the Moon Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (June 8, 2007). "Exclusive: Peter Cullen Interview". IGN. 
  2. ^ All Our Alumni, National Theatre School of Canada
  3. ^ a b c Hidalgo, Pablo. Transformers Vault: The Complete Transformers Universe Showcasing Rare Collectibles and Memorabilia, Abrams, 2011, Foreward by Peter Cullen, p. 7
  4. ^ The Buddies on CFCF-TV
  5. ^ a b Lee, Chris (Spring 2014). "An Optimal Voice for Optimus". Hero Complex, Los Angeles Times. p. 22
  6. ^ Nguyen, Hanh. "Prime Time: Cullen's 'Transformers' Resurrection", Zap2It, 7 November 2006.
  7. ^ Review of Tetragrammaton by The Monolith Deathcult, Metal-fi.com
  8. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, Coming Soon magazine
  9. ^ "IMPS Chapter One FAQ". Impstherelentless.com. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  10. ^ "TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame Peter Cullen" (video). Hasbro. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Peter Cullen". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
None
Voice of Optimus Prime
1984–1988
Original series and animated film
Succeeded by
Neil Kaplan
2001–2002
Robots in Disguise
Preceded by
Gary Chalk
2002–2006
Unicron Trilogy
Voice of Optimus Prime
2007
Video game and live-action film
Succeeded by
David Kaye
2007–2009
Animated
Preceded by
David Kaye
2007–2009
Animated
Voice of Optimus Prime
2009
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Voice of Optimus Prime
2010
Transformers: Prime
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Voice of Optimus Prime
2011
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
None
Voice of Ironhide
Original series and animated film

1984–1986
Succeeded by
Michael McConnohie
2001–2002
Robots in Disguise
Preceded by
None
Voice of Mario
1983–1985
Saturday Supercade
Succeeded by
Lou Albano
1989–1990
Super Mario Brothers Super Show
Preceded by
None
Voice of KARR
1982
Knight Rider episode "Trust Doesn't Rust"
Succeeded by
Paul Frees
1984
Knight Rider episode "K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R."
Preceded by
Paul Frees
1984
Knight Rider episode "K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R."
Voice of KARR
2009
Knight Rider episode "Knight to King's Pawn"
Succeeded by
None