Voice acting can be tough on anyone's voicebox, but especially so for someone trying to capture a unique character within themselves.
Few have done it well, and fewer still have done it perfectly. It takes a special kind of performer to convey real emotion when all they have at their disposal is their voice in a recording booth, hoping the finished film will reflect well upon the creative choices made.
And when it comes to voice acting, there's no studio more storied than Disney's own animation studio. Since the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937, Disney has set itself apart with its incredible array of expert voice actors and actresses.
So, who did it the best for the Mouse House? Here are our picks for the best Disney movie voice acting performances of all time.
10. Vincent Price as Ratigan
The Great Mouse Detective is one of Disney's most underrated films, which came out shortly before the Golden Age of Disney Animation Studios.
It was an era before big names really took up vocal roles in movies, but Vincent Price sparked that new age by voicing the evil-yet-oddly-charming Professor Ratigan. He outshined everybody else in the film through his dulcet tones and made it a more interesting piece.
His portrayal of the rat had a thin veneer of social etiquette, which disguised the savagery of the animal he was underneath—and really scared children in the film's Big Ben sequence.
9. Patrick Warburton as Kronk
Honestly, any of the main cast of The Emperor's New Groove could have made it onto this list. However, leaving out Patrick Warburton's Kronk would have felt the most wrong.
Kronk generates the most laughter in this best-loved out-and-out Disney comedy, which also had David Spade, John Goodman, and Eartha Kitt at its forefront. Not a shabby cast at all.
Warburton was so brilliant as Kronk that he remains iconic to this day for his outward stupidity and lovable nature in that film. The sequences that find him wrestling with the two sides of his conscience are some of the best in Disney's comedic history.
8. Eddie Murphy as Mushu
As the Dragon who's "sent" to help Mulan while she infiltrates the army—given that women were banned from serving—Mushu was her closest confidant and friend during the film's adventure.
Eddie Murphy takes inspiration from the great Robin Williams in his vocal performance, using his natural comedic timing and delivery to ensure he's the center of every scene that features Mushu.
He made audiences laugh at every turn, and his performance was so great that the role has proven to be impossible to re-cast, partly evidenced by the character's absence in the Mulan remake.
7. James Woods as Hades
No Disney villain was more outwardly funny than James Woods as Hades in Hercules. He constantly took opportunities to crack jokes and lay down his unique brand of Underworld justice on those who got in his way.
Woods decided that his Hades would not be a dark and relentless villain wrought by fire, but rather one created in the image of a character who used a humorous veil to hide his true intentions.
The forthcoming live-action remake of Hercules will certainly struggle to capture the same energy that Woods brought to Hades.
6. Karl Swenson as Merlin
During Disney's reign in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the company used to rely on the same voice actors for various roles across multiple different films. From that era, Karl Swenson's vocal performance is the one that sticks out as most memorable to us now.
As the mighty wizard Merlin, Swenson befriends the young boy Arthur (not yet King) and becomes his mentor and guide through life.
Even as Merlin gets Arthur into trouble, the wizard always remains a kindly reminder of the greater things in life—and he never fails to make us laugh, either. Swenson may be largely forgotten, but his Merlin has stayed with us long after those credits rolled.
5. Awkwafina as Sisu
Awkwafina's vocal performance as Sisudatu in Raya and the Last Dragon is reminiscent of Disney's Golden Age, back when Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy threw their scripts out the window and improvised their lines.
The brilliant comedian brings a goofy sense of awkwardness to Sisu, yet always with a lovable nature that contradicts the legend that has built up about her over the centuries she's been gone.
Awkwafina steals every scene, not just in making us laugh but also in making us empathize with her and Raya in the moments that hit hardest. Raya and the Last Dragon may be a recent film, but Awkwafina's Sisu is already a vocal performance for the animated ages.
4. Danny DeVito as Phil
More than just his perfect performance, Danny DeVito also lent his short stature to the animation of Phil, which enhanced the hard-hitting comedy in Hercules.
Phil initially refuses, but eventually agrees to train Hercules in the way of heroes. With DeVito as the voice of Phil, the film finds a supporting character who's fun and full of gravitas.
When Phil leaves Hercules, the scene embodies the emotional strength of the film and proves that DeVito brought more than just comedy.
3. Jeremy Irons as Scar
In portraying Scar, the legendary Jeremy Irons didn't play him as a traditional Disney villain. Instead, he came out as a Shakespearean evil that plagued the Pride Lands of The Lion King.
That is, of course, not an accident—the movie itself was loosely based on Shakespeare's own Hamlet. But Jeremy Irons infused Scar with a kind of magic that made him as memorable as any of Disney's best characters.
Venom drips in every word he speaks, matching the mind behind the deadly eyes. His performance reminds us that Scar has no redeeming features. He's evil personified, but never cheesy, and that's why we remember him as a formidable and terrifying villain.
2. James Earl Jones as Mufasa
No voice in the world can compete with the warmth and roundness found in James Earl Jones's vocal performance as Mufasa.
He may have once been the powerful voice of Darth Vader, but in The Lion King, Jones manages to shake off the chains of Vader and become the fatherly figure we all instantly want to root for.
And as we watch him save his son from a stampede, the impending doom of fate haunts us through the screen. We know that his death is imminent when Scar enters the scene—and when Mufasa is thrown from the cliffs, we're as utterly horrified as Simba himself.
That all comes down to the immense performance put in by James Earl Jones and his ability to make us fall in love with Mufasa.
1. Robin Williams as The Genie
There will never be another vocal performance like Robin Williams as Genie in Aladdin. No one has ever inhabited an animated character like he did, and we suspect no one ever will.
Robin Williams was everything in the role: funny, goofy, magical, utterly devastating, skillfully using his comedic wit to rip up the script and make up his own dialogue that elevated the film.
Infectious energy seeped through the screen whenever Genie came on, and every single one of his scenes remains unforgettable. Without any ounce of hyperbole, it was Robin Williams as Genie that suddenly made it cool in Hollywood to voice animated characters.