Click to viewPeter Cullen was the voice of Optimus Prime in the 1980s cartoon version of Transformers, which may have given him the chance to rewrite some of the lines from Michael Bay's big-screen take on the character. But just where did Cullen - who also voices Eeyore in Disney's Winnie The Pooh movies - get that authoritative and commanding voice from in the first place? The answer seems to involve both keeping it in the family and also looking back at America's least favorite 20th century war.Talking about the beginning of his role as the giant Autobot leader, Cullen said,
When I looked at the breakdown of Optimus Prime in the original show, it was a hero. My older brother, Larry, was my hero. He had returned from Vietnam. He was with the Marine Corps, and he saw some pretty heavy experience. It was his tone of voice and delivery as a leader, his control that impressed me, and I applied my brother's attitude to life to Optimus Prime. It just rang a bell, and I was cast in that part. I guess people somehow picked up on that. There's a calmness to Optimus Prime, and yet a gentility and strength and honor and dignity, that are synonymous with the Marines.
Suddenly the other armed forces are getting very jealous; don't worry, Navy - I've heard that Jazz is all about you guys. Although he couldn't spill the plot of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, Cullen did share that the bigger budget meant an increased role for him:
I only know the lines I've read, and I'm not allowed to disclose any of those. But the amount of success that 'Transformers' had on a financial level is providing a lot more screen time for Optimus Prime. It's very expensive to do all these robot characters because of the 10,000 moving parts. Thankfully we were a hit, so there's 'Transformers 2' and maybe 'Transformers 3.' I think 'Transformers 2' is going to be an incredible, incredible picture. I can see the excitement in the faces of the people involved, and it generates quite a bit of excitement in me too.
Heavy metal: Peter Cullen's voice powers 'Transformers [ReadingEagle]