Meet All the Voices Behind “Winnie the Pooh”
Get ready for a shock! These are the faces behind the Hundred Acre Wood’s beloved cast of animated characters.
Putting faces to the iconic voices
You don’t have to be the world’s biggest Disney fan to love Winnie the Pooh and his pals. The characters, brought to life by author A.A. Milne back in 1926 when the first collection of stories was published, have a unique way of stealing the hearts of kids and grown-ups alike. For nearly a century, Pooh and friends have graced both the small screen and the big screen in various forms, with a number of different actors voicing them. If you’ve ever wondered who has brought these lovable creatures to life throughout the years, read on to learn more about these phenomenal actors. You may be surprised to learn which other characters they’ve voiced as well.
Hailing from Youngstown, Ohio, veteran voice actor Jim Cummings has voiced Winnie the Pooh on more than one occasion. He is the man behind both Pooh and Tigger in the 2018 feature film Christopher Robin, and he voiced the duo for both Pooh’s Heffalump Movie and Piglet’s Big Movie. Essentially, when Disney needs the Pooh and Tigger voices we know best, they call Cummings. “Pooh is a bear of very little brain, but yet his logic is pure,” Cummings told NPR. “And it’s sort of that serene, Zen approach to life. And I always say that Pooh is the eye of the hurricane because he’s very, very calm. And Tigger is the hurricane.” Now that you know who’s voiced two of your favorite animated animals, see the real-life toys that inspired beloved Winnie the Pooh characters.
It was actor Sterling Holloway who first brought Pooh’s voice to life with Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree in 1966. He ended his tenure as the character with some appearances on The Magical World of Disney in the early 1980s. But Pooh isn’t the only voice Holloway crafted for Disney. He also played Kaa the Snake in The Jungle Book and Roquefort in The Aristocats. Holloway, who passed away in 1992, may have portrayed Pooh less than Cummings, but his voice made a clear impact on the character and fans. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cummings insists, “I borrowed it (Pooh’s voice) from the late, great Sterling Holloway. Interestingly enough that was just his speaking voice.” Have you read the 25 best children’s books ever written?
Skittish little Piglet is beloved by fans because he’s a loyal friend to Pooh despite his timid approach to life. Actor John Fiedler used his voice to portray Piglet for years, beginning with Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day in 1968. But Fiedler worked both on- and off-camera, appearing in live-action TV and film as well as doing voiceover work. His final turn as Piglet came in 2005 in Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, which happens to be the same year he passed away. On how Fiedler’s voice came to be used for the “very small animal,” James Fiedler said in his brother’s New York Times obituary: “Walt Disney heard it on a program and said, ‘That’s Piglet.’” Brace yourself for some more surprising facts we bet you never knew about Disney’s most famous characters.
After Fiedler’s passing in 2005, voice actor Travis Oates began crafting the voice of Piglet. He can first be heard in projects like the My Friends Tigger & Pooh shorts and Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too. Aside from acting, Oates is also a writer and director. He directed the 2014 horror flick Don‘t Blink, starring Mena Suvari and Brian Austin Green. According to his Twitter account, Oates is a self-proclaimed “huge nerd.” He resides in Los Angeles with his family and most recently voiced Piglet for the video game Kingdom Hearts III.
For the 2018 feature film Christopher Robin, Nick Mohammed took the reins as the voice of Piglet. Although the 39-year-old British actor largely tackles live-action roles, his voice can also be heard in Robert Downey Jr.’s Doctor Dolittle as White Mouse, which falls in line with Piglet’s sweet voice, don’t you think? Mohammed is truly a jack of all trades. In addition to being an actor, he’s a stand-up comedian, and he graduated from the University of Durham with a degree in geophysics. Stand-up comedy and science sound like a far cry from our Piglet, but Mohammed’s voice certainly captured the sweet character perfectly in Christopher Robin. Wanna laugh? These are the 100 funniest movies of all time.
Having a bad day? Then you can probably relate to the oh-so-sullen voice of Eeyore, Pooh’s donkey friend who always seems to be sad about something. Ralph Wright originated that distinctive voice for Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, and since his passing in 1983, several other actors have tackled the voice of Eeyore. One you will definitely recognize is actor Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond fame, who voiced the character for Christopher Robin.
“Eeyore is something so iconic, and someone I’ve been compared to,” Garrett said in an interview with Collider. “There was a lot of Eeyore in my Everybody Loves Raymond character. I loved it. And many, many years ago—almost 30 years ago—I had the opportunity to voice him in a TV special for Disney. It was happening at the same time that I started to get busy as a stand-up, and I remember how excited I was, but then I got this stand-up tour that I had to go on and it got in the way of me recording Eeyore.” Fortunately for Garrett, that opportunity came around again. Find out which iconic TV characters were actually based on real people.
You wouldn’t think that Winnie the Pooh‘s Rabbit and SpongeBob Squarepants would have much in common, but for a brief period of time they did! Tom Kenny, the voice of the popular yellow guy who lives in a pineapple under the sea, also voiced Rabbit for the 2011 film Winnie the Pooh and the TV shorts Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. A brief look at Kenny’s resume shows he is one seriously in-demand voiceover actor. Also a stand-up comedian, the actor clearly has a lot of range. In 1999, he even scored an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for his work on SpongeBob Squarepants.
Rabbit may have the most curious array of actors who have portrayed him. Peter Capaldi, best known as the Doctor to fans of the Doctor Who franchise, voiced the character for the film Christopher Robin. Capaldi played the Twelfth Doctor in the series and is largely known for on-camera work rather than voiceovers. Fun fact: Capaldi was once in a punk rock band with fellow actor Craig Ferguson, who is also a part of the Winnie the Pooh family. Ferguson has voiced wise old Owl, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, these famous movie and television quotes are bound to put a smile on your face.
Michigan-born actor Hal Smith originated the voice of Owl in 1968’s Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. He would later voice the know-it-all character for other projects like Welcome to Pooh Corner and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Smith, who died in 1994, also sometimes portrayed Goofy for various productions and contributed his voice to many of the popular Disney Read-Along records that were popular during the late 1970s. On camera, Smith played “town drunk” Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show. In real life, Smith wasn’t a drinker at all. Here are 13 things you never knew about Winnie the Pooh.