Pixar Has Replaced Almost All Of The Voice Cast For The Good Dinosaur
Now every role is voiced by John Ratzenberger.
Pixar films are tweaked, and even drastically changed, right up until they’re released. Unlike most films, live-action or animated, where the story can’t be reworked due to looming release dates and set budgets, Pixar can be two years into a project and decide things aren’t working, then scrap everything but the title. Watch the special features for pretty much any Pixar film and you’ll see staff members discussing how a certain film was looking like a disaster, then changes were made and they ended up with Up or Ratatouille. Most of the time, we’re oblivious to these changes until after a film is released. But with The Good Dinosaur, the film’s problems have been front and center. Originally set for a 2014 release, The Good Dinosaur was pushed back to this November, making this the first year with two Pixar films, and director Bob Peterson was replaced by Peter Sohn. Now, other changes have been announced, as a press release for the film has revealed that most of the previously announced voice cast has been replaced.
Here is the official voice cast for The Good Dinosaur and brief descriptions of the film’s main characters.
RAYMOND OCHOA (NBC’s “The Night Shift,” TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Disney’s A Christmas Carol”) provides the voice of an Apatosaurus named Arlo.
JEFFREY WRIGHT (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” – parts I & II, HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) was tapped as the voice of Poppa, Arlo’s father.
STEVE ZAHN (“Captain Fantastic,” “Ridiculous Six,” “Rescue Dawn,” “Mad Dogs”) provides the voice of a pterodactyl named Thunderclap.
AJ BUCKLEY (TNT’s “Murder in the First,” FX’s “Justified”) voices a T-Rex called Nash.
ANNA PAQUIN (HBO’s “True Blood”) is the voice of T-Rex Ramsey.
SAM ELLIOTT (FX’s “Justified,” “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” “Grandma”) was called on as the voice of a tough T-Rex named Butch.
FRANCES MCDORMAND (HBO’s “Olive Kitteridge,” “Fargo”) was tapped as the voice of Momma, Arlo’s mother.
MARCUS SCRIBNER (ABC’s “black•ish”) voices Arlo’s brother Buck.
JACK BRIGHT (“Monsters University”) provides the voice of Arlo’s unlikely human friend, Spot
That’s a solid cast list, but it’s very different from the one that was previously announced, which included John Lithgow as Poppa, Lucas Neff as Arlo, and Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer, and Bill Hader in roles that have been removed (or renamed). The only holdover is Frances McDormand, who plays Momma, the mother of Arlo, the titular good dinosaur. Pixar has replaced actors before – William H. Macy originally recorded lines for Marlin in Finding Nemo before Albert Brooks was given the role – but they’ve never replaced an entire cast after they’ve already recorded their parts.
Still, I trust Pixar’s judgment, and it isn’t like they replaced Lithgow, Greer, Harris, and Hader with bigger names. In fact, they did the opposite. As excited as I was to hear Lithgow in a Pixar film, Jeffrey Wright is an excellent replacement, and I can’t complain about a cast list that includes Sam Elliott as a T-Rex.
I admire the lengths to which Pixar will go to make the best film possible, and hopefully the changes made in The Good Dinosaur were for the better. We’ll get to see the finished product on November 25.