Jim Cummings is undoubtedly one of the best voice actors of our time with hundreds of films and television projects on his resume such as Ed in The Lion King, Hondo Ohnaka in Star Wars, The Tazmean Devil, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Darkwing Duck, Cheshire Cat, Razoul, Pooh’s gangster look-alike from ‘How Much is That Rabbit in the Window?’ and the list goes on and on.
This year he has graced our screens as Hondo Ohnaka in Star Wars Rebels in the series finale of the show and is set to appear as Winnie The Pooh in Disney’s Christopher Robin, King Charming in Charming and we can exclusively report that he will reprise his role as Darkwing Duck in Disney’s Duck Tales TV Series. We had to chance to sit down with him and discuss some of his iconic roles and what the future entails for his career.
INTERVIEWER: To begin the interview, how did you get into voice acting and what advice would you give to people wanting to get into voice acting?
JIM: I’ve always knew when my father would talk about Looney Tunes and such that I wanted to go into something creative, whether it was acting or singing. When I was starting, I was working in a video store in Anaheim Hills when I got the part of Lionel in Dumbo’s Circus which was what pretty much kickstarted my career. My advice to people who want to be voice actors themselves is always been that good impressions of people nobody knows are characters, and bad impressions of people everyone knows can be characters to.
INTERVIEWER: How did you first land the role of the iconic Winnie The Pooh as well as Tigger?
JIM: At that time, there was an audition for the new Winnie the Pooh show on ABC, which wasn’t owned by Disney at the time. They thought “hey remember those old vignettes”. I never planned it. It was just an audition they were holding, and at that time I auditioned for hundreds of roles, just as many as I could. When I got the role, Sterling Holloway was still alive then but he was too old to continue doing the voice, so Hal Smith and I would take turns doing Pooh. Actually in fact, once I was at a diner in Laguna Beach and then behind me, I heard someone say (in the voice of Pooh), “I’ll have some chowder.” and it was Sterling so I turned around and said, “Pooh??” to myself, I wish I said something to him, but I didn’t sadly. As for Tigger, I played Tigger interchangeably with Paul Winchell because I was so into other projects — it was like literally trying to solve a famine in the Sahara — so I ended up voicing Tigger 1/3rd of the time, and Paul would voice Pooh when I wasn’t available because of another project. Luckily, we both sounded alike but unfortunately when Paul Winchell had a stroke, I had to come in and take over full time, I remember visiting him in the hospital and him holding his arms out and saying “make sure to look after Tigger for me” and I have ever since.
INTERVIEWER: What have been some of your favourite projects that you have voiced Winnie the Pooh on?
JIM: All of the Winnie the Pooh projects have been my favourites, it’s really hard to pick a favourite, but I particularly enjoyed the most recent Winnie The Pooh movie in 2011, which unfortunately opened against Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2. Smurfs opened 3 weeks earlier also and did well at the box office so it is a shame that it didn’t do well, but there is also Christopher Robin that releases in cinemas this year, have you guys seen the trailer yet?
INTERVIEWER: Yea we have, which actually leads us onto our next question infact which is, how is Pooh different in Christopher Robin?
JIM: He’s more sedate. Pooh is not as bodacious as he usually is. It’s a different setting. It’s in London in the 40s. Pooh looks into Christopher’s eyes and so despite how much Christopher Walken has changed, wait not Christopher Walken, Christopher Robin I mean.
INTERVIEWER: That would be cool though, Christopher Walken as an old Christopher Robin.
JIM: Haha yes! I think Winnie would notice a change with him that time. But Winnie still sees Christopher Robin as the same friend he spent all that time in the Hundred Acre Woods with, the friend that he has always knew, it’s quite a emotional story but Pooh does still have most of the same qualities that he has had in the past.
INTERVIEWER: What has been some of your favourite experiences voicing the iconic character of Winnie the Pooh?
JIM: There’s countless amounts of great experiences that I’ve had but…well at conventions, there’s 40 year olds with Pooh shirts who are like, “Pooh is my favorite character” and then I get to see tattoos with Pooh and Tigger doing things that they would never do. Some people ask me to sign next to their tattoo and I remember there was this one person who wanted me to sign next to their tattoo and I said you aren’t going to get that tattooed on there right, and they responded “of course, I’m going to tattoo parlour across to road just after this”, but yea there are tons of amazing experiences I’ve had with these two characters in particular.
INTERVIEWER: In the upcoming Christopher Robin film, Chris O’Dowd will be voicing Tigger, what were your thoughts on his performance given that you have voiced the character in the past?
JIM: Chris O’Dowd As Tigger…hmmm, wait actually I can’t talk about that at the moment.
INTERVIEWER: Ah, understood, you never know where the Disney spies are hiding.
JIM: Haha, yea.
INTERVIEWER: Moving on to another one of your iconic roles as you have voiced Geppetto in the past in a Pinocchio Animated film, Disney are in fact making a live action remake of Pinocchio, what are your thoughts on making a live action remake of Pinocchio as well as would you like to reprise your role potentially as Geppetto in live action?
JIM: Absolutely, I’d love to reprise my role as Geppetto, I’m there. If they call me, I’d love to do it. as for these live-action remakes, I’m really excited for The Lion King but my one thing about those films is if they are really live action, because I’ve seen a set photo from The Jungle Book one, great movie by the way, where it’s this 10 year old Mowgli standing in front of a seafront of just green screen, so it is kinda animated in that sense. Oh and also I’d love to play the singing chef in Lady and the Tramp live-action film, what was the Chef’s name again?
INTERVIEWER: I’m not sure.
JIM: I’m not sure he even had a name, but definitely I’d be up for that, sometimes I think that studios think “oh let’s just get Jim on for this” which don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining because now I’ve had the opportunity to lend my voice to countless projects, it’s amazing.
INTERVIEWER: Additionally, you have voiced Darkwing Duck For Disney in the past, would you be interested in reprising your role as Darkwing Duck, potentially in the new Duck Tales series on Disney XD?
JIM: I’m in, I’m already in actually, that one is already in the bag, Disney are planning a big marketing drop on that stuff so I can’t say anything more at the moment other than yes, I will be returning to that role for the Duck Tales Show, which it’s really cool to be apart of these shows like that, currently a character that I play that I am in love with is Hondo Ohnaka from Star Wars The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, LEGO Star Wars Freemaker Adventures and even more, I get to play him for all these different things.
INTERVIEWER: That actually segue-ways into my next question, will we be seeing Hondo Ohnaka appear again anytime soon?
JIM: Definitely! Hondo is definitely one of his favourite voices and I’m not sure if I can say anything currently so all I’ll say is we haven’t seen the last of Hondo, I did some voice work of Hondo also for a video game I believe it was that we should see in 2019, and last week I did some voicework for the character at Disney Imagineering.
INTERVIEWER: Will we find Hondo in the Galaxy’s Edge Park opening at Disneyland and DisneyWorld.
JIM: Maybe, we’ll just have to see.
INTERVIEWER: What have been some of your favourite films and television shows as of recently?
JIM: Hmmm… there is not a particular recent film I can think of that is my favourite, I love all of the movies in Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and there is such a range of animated movies nowadays that I love pretty much all of them well with a few exceptions.
INTERVIEWER: Like Smurfs?
JIM: Yea, definitely The Smurfs films are not my thing.
INTERVIEWER: Well thank you for being a lovely guest for us today Mr Cummings, is there anything you would like to plug before we wrap up today.
JIM: Well, there is my Twitter account which is @Jimcummingsacme, OK KO and Charming which stars myself as King Charming, Wilmer Valderama as my son, Prince Charming with Demi Lovato and Tara Strong in the film as well.
Thank you to CJ Paschall at the Hybrid Network and AF for hosting this interview for us.