Peter Cullen

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Peter Cullen
Peter Cullen SacAnime 2015.jpg
Cullen at the January 2015 Sac-Anime
Born
Peter Claver Cullen

(1941-07-28) July 28, 1941 (age 77)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
NationalityCanadian
OccupationVoice actor
Years active1962–present
Known forVoice of Optimus Prime and Eeyore
Children4

Peter Claver Cullen (born July 28, 1941) is a Canadian voice actor. He is best known as the voice of Optimus Prime in the original 1980s Transformers animated series, and most other incarnations of the character. He has also voiced several other characters, including Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh franchise, Monterey Jack in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, and KARR in Knight Rider. In 2007, Cullen returned to the role of Optimus Prime in various 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 and Muriel (née McCann) Cullen. He has three siblings: Michaela, Sonny, and Larry. Cullen attended Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School. He is a member of the first graduating class of the National Theatre School of Canada, which he 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]

Career[edit]

1960s–1970s[edit]

In 1968, he and Joan Stuart appeared as "Giles" and "Penelope" in L'Anglaise, a recurring segment about a French-Canadian man with an English-Canadian wife, on the CBC Radio comedy series, Funny You Should Say That.

Cullen played 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] He 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. From 1967–69, he was the announcer for Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.[citation needed]

From 1971–74, he, Zeigler and Billy Van were series regulars on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. In 1974, Cullen was the announcer and a series regular (with Ted Zeigler and Billy Van) on The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show. He lent his voice to a character in the album "The Story of Halloween Horror" in 1977.[citation needed]

As Optimus Prime[edit]

Cullen recalls auditioning for the role of the robot superhero 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 superhero, be a real superhero. Real superheroes 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 superhero 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, because the studio had never given him fan letters from children addressed to Optimus. The public backlash over Optimus's 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 then in its sequels Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon, Age of Extinction, and The Last Knight, the spin-off Bumblebee film,[7] and the video games based on the film series. Cullen is contractually obligated to voice Optimus in at least one more sequel.[5]

Cullen again reprised his role as Optimus Prime in the video games Transformers: War for Cybertron, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and Transformers: Devastation, and in the recent television series Transformers: Rescue Bots, Transformers Prime and Transformers: Robots in Disguise. 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]

Cullen in 2011

In the 1980s and 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 franchise, 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 in the supporting cast of 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. Tetragrammaton also featured Cullen on bass in "God's Among Insects."[8] Additionally, he did voicework for the unreleased Blizzard Entertainment game Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans,[9] and provided narration for the Star Wars fan film series I.M.P.S.: The Relentless.[10]

Cullen is a voice announcer on Police Story 4: First Strike in advertisements for New Line Cinema, lending his experience as an ex-cop for the Santa Monica division to the cast.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Cullen has four children: Clay, Angus, Claire, Pilar and three grandchildren. He is a good friend of his longtime Transformers co-star and fellow voice actor Frank Welker.[12]

Honours[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.[13]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1970 Prologue Allen
1976 King Kong King Kong (voice)[14]
1982 Heidi's Song Gruffle
1983 Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls Big Blue
1984 Voyage of the Rock Aliens 1359
Gallavants Antonim
Warriors of the Wind General
(voice)
1985 English dub
1985 Robotix
Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines Arthur Ravenscroft
Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer Various characters
(voices)
1986 Voltron: Fleet of Doom
Heathcliff: The Movie Pop
GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords Pincher, Tombstone, Stones
My Little Pony: The Movie Grundle, Ahgg
The Transformers: The Movie Optimus Prime, Ironhide
(voices)
1987 G.I. Joe: The Movie Zandar, Nemesis Enforcer, Scientist
(voice)
Predator The Predator (voice)
1988 Rockin' with Judy Jetson Gruff, Commander Comsat, Bouncer
Yogi and the Invasion of the Space Bears Ranger Roubideux (voice)
1989 Vytor: The Starfire Champion Myzor, Chief Eldor
1991 The Little Engine That Could Pete, The Cave (voice)
1994 The Story of Christmas Ox
(voice)
1997 Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin Eeyore
(voice)
1999 Seasons of Giving Archive sound
2000 The Tigger Movie
2001 The Book of Pooh: Stories from the Heart
Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse
2002 A Very Merry Pooh Year
Treasure Planet Captain Flint (voice)
2003 Piglet's Big Movie Eeyore
(voice)
2004 Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo
2005 Pooh's Heffalump Movie
Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie
2007 Transformers Optimus Prime (voice)
Super Sleuth Christmas Movie Eeyore
(voice)
2009 Tigger and Pooh and a Musical Too
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime (voice)
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction
2017 Transformers: The Last Knight Optimus Prime / Nemesis Prime (voice)
2018 Bumblebee Optimus Prime (voice)

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
(voice)
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 Mighty Man and Yukk Brandon Brewster / Mighty Man
(voice)
1979 Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Additional voices
1981 The Kwicky Koala Show Bristletooth
(voice)
1981 The Smurfs Additional voices
1981 Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Dr. Bruce Banner / Hulk, Mysterio, Red Skull
(voices)
2 episodes
1982 The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour Lucky
(voice)
1982 Spider-Man Red Skull, Stuntman, Jack Riven
(voices)
1982 Meatballs & Spaghetti Additional voices
1982 Pac-Man Sour Puss
(voice)
1982 The Little Rascals Officer Ed, Pete the Pup
(voices)
1982 Knight Rider K.A.R.R.
(voice)
1st voice;
Episode: "Trust Doesn't Rust"
1983 Monchhichis Shreeker, Snitchitt, Gonker
(voices)
1983 The Puppy's Further Adventures Lucky
(voice)
1983 The Biskitts Dog Foot, Fang, Scratch
(voice)
1983 Saturday Supercade Mario
(voice)
1983 The Dukes Additional voices
1983–85 Dungeons & Dragons Venger
(voice)
1984 Dragon's Lair Bertram
(voice)
1984 Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats Additional voices
1984 Snorks Additional voices
1984–86 Rainbow Brite Murky Dismal
(voice)
1984–85 Alvin and the Chipmunks Additional voices
1984–87 The Transformers Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Streetwise, Blowpipe, Slugslinger
(voices)
1984 Voltron: Defender of the Universe Coran, King Alfor, Narrator
(voices)
1984 Three's a Crowd Sports Announcer, Airline Captain 2 episodes
1985 The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo Maldor the Malevolent
(voice)
1985 Challenge of the GoBots Spoiler, Tank, Pincher
(voices)
1985 The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians Felix Faust
(voice)
Episode: "Brainchild/The Case of the Stolen Super Powers"
1985–86 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Airborne, Ramar, Zandar
(voices)
1986 MoonDreamers Igon, Various characters
(voices)
Episode: "Zodies on the Loose"
1986 Rambo: The Force of Freedom Sergeant Havoc
(voice)
1986 Muppet Babies Additional voices Episode: "Fozzie's Family Tree"
1986 Ghostbusters Eddie Spenser Jr., Eddie Spenser Sr., Haunter, Floatzart
(voices)
1986 Pound Puppies Captain Slaughter
(voice)
4 episodes
1986 The New Adventures of Jonny Quest Patch
(voice)
Episode: "Peril of the Reptilian"
1986 Foofur Baby the Rat, Vinnie the Cat
(voice)
1986 My Little Pony Captain Crabnasty
(voice)
Episode: "Fugitive Flowers"
1987–88 BraveStarr Dr. Whiston, Dr. Watson, Hack
(voice)
1987–88 DuckTales Admiral Grimitz, Bankjob Beagle, Mad Dog McGirk, Lessdred
(voices)
1987 The Little Wizards Renwick, various characters
1987 The Real Ghostbusters Doctor Destructo, Police Officer
(voices)
Episode: "Captain Steel Saves the Day"
1987 Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light Cindarr
(voice)
1987–89 Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs Commander Eagle, Narrator, Nemesis
(voices)
1988 Dino-Riders Gunner, Antor, Bomba
(voices)
Episode: "Toro Toro Torosaurus"
1988–89 The New Yogi Bear Show Ranger Roubideux
(voice)
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Yen Sid
(voice)
TV special
1988–91 The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Eeyore
(voice)
1988–90 Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears Kerwin the Conqueror, Gritty
(voices)
1988–89 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash, Mugger, Napoleon
(voices)
1989 Rude Dog and the Dweebs Herman, Winston
(voices)
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
(voices)
1991–93 The Pirates of Dark Water Mantus
(voice)
1991 In Living Color Episode: "Dickie Peterson: Cherub of Justice"
1993 Bonkers Abominable Snowman, Mackey McSlime
(voices)
1994 Hardball Fox Announcer
(voice)
Episode: "Lee's Bad, Bad Day"
1996 Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh Eeyore
(voice)
1998–present The Magical World of Walt Disney
2001–02 House of Mouse
2001–03 The Book of Pooh
2004–05 Megas XLR Zanzoar, Klaar
(voices)
2005–06 IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix Narrator
(voice)
2007–10 My Friends Tigger & Pooh Eeyore
(voice)
2009 Knight Rider K.A.R.R.
(voice)
Episode: "Knight in King's Pawn"
2009 Bizarre Dinosaurs Narrator
(voice)
2010–13 Transformers: Prime Optimus Prime, Vehicon
(voices)
2012–16 Transformers: Rescue Bots Optimus Prime
(voice)
2014 2014 Kids' Choice Awards
2015–2017 Transformers: Robots in Disguise
2017 Doc McStuffins Eeyore
(voice)
Episode: "Into the Hundred Acre Wood"
2017-2018 Transformers: Titans Return Optimus Prime
(voice)
2018 The Toys That Made Us Himself
Optimus Prime
(voice)
Transformers: Power of the Primes Optimus Prime
(voice)

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2003 Piglet's Big Game Eeyore
(voice)
2007 Transformers: The Game Optimus Prime
(voice)
Transformers Autobots
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Autobots
2010 Transformers: War for Cybertron
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2012 Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Transformers: Prime – The Game
2014 Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark
2015 Transformers: Devastation
2016 Transformers: Earth Wars
2019 Crystal Crisis Narrator
(voice)

Theme park rides[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2003 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Eeyore
(voice)
2011 Transformers: The Ride Optimus Prime
(voice)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film/TV Show Result
2010 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Combo Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Nominated
2011 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Transformers Prime Nominated
2012 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Ensemble Transformers: Dark of the Moon Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (June 8, 2007). "Exclusive: Peter Cullen Interview". IGN. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012.
  2. ^ All Our Alumni Archived 2012-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, National Theatre School of Canada, ent-nts.ca; accessed August 18, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Hidalgo, Pablo. Transformers Vault: The Complete Transformers Universe Showcasing Rare Collectibles and Memorabilia, Abrams, 2011, Foreword by Peter Cullen, p. 7
  4. ^ "The Buddies". 4 January 2011.
  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. ^ Optimus Prime Returning for the Bumblebee Spinoff Movie - Screen Rant
  8. ^ Review of Tetragrammaton by The Monolith Deathcult, Metal-fi.com
  9. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, Coming Soon magazine
  10. ^ "IMPS Chapter One FAQ". Impstherelentless.com. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  11. ^ Handout. "Police Story 4: First Strike". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  12. ^ "Frank Welker". Behind The Voice Actors.
  13. ^ "TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame Peter Cullen" (video). Hasbro. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  14. ^ "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
Garry 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
2010-2013
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 Optimus Prime
2012-2016
Transformers: Rescue Bots
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Voice of Optimus Prime
2014
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Voice of Optimus Prime
2015-2017
Transformers: Robots in Disguise
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Voice of Optimus Prime
2017
Transformers: The Last Knight
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
Screen Junkies
2016
Transformers: Combiner Wars
Voice of Optimus Prime
2017-2018
Transformers: Titans Return
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Voice of Optimus Prime
2018
Transformers: Power of the Primes
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Voice of Optimus Prime
2018
Bumblebee (film)
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