‘Zootopia’ Gathers a Menagerie of Voice Actors for Disney’s Next Feature
News on Disney’s upcoming feature Zootopia has been trickling out at the gradual pace that consumers have come to expect for pre-release buzz-building. However, the nature of the information that’s surfaced has been somewhat odd. Disney first treated the public to a few scraps of concept art, then a trailer that’s not really a trailer because it doesn’t contain any footage of the finished film, then the earth-shaking announcement that Shakira would be there as a super-sultry gazelle/pop singer. The early-exposure materials have gotten more specific and advanced as we’ve approached the film’s release date of March 4, 2016, but amid all this, Disney has yet to pull back the curtain on basic details like a cast list, or character sheet. Disney executives must have been at least partially aware of this odd pacing, because they remedied exactly that with a news blast today.
Disney has unveiled the full cast list for Zootopia, and naturally the film has been well-stocked with name-brand actors willing to lend their distinctive tones to something their kids might be able to watch. In addition to Shakira, Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin had already been announced as a fast-talking con man fox and a plucky bunny cop, respectively. They’ll be joined by Idris Elba as Chief Bogo, an stern African buffalo who runs the Zootopia PD, as well as Hello Ladies‘ Nate Torrence as the cheetah that mans the department’s front desk. J.K. Simmons will play the lion that presides as mayor in Zootopia, and Jenny Slate will voice the meek sheep that acts as his assistant. (The animal-humor symbolism is strong with this one.) Octavia Spencer voices an otter in search of her missing husband, Alan Tudyk takes on small-time weasel crook Duke Weaselton (a little in-joke from the creators of Frozen, referring to Tudyk’s character of the Duke of Weselton in that film, who repeatedly insists that his kingdom’s not pronounced Weaseltown), and Tommy Chong as a a hippie yak. Rounding out the cast are Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Raymond Persi, and Tommy Lister.
The unorthodox initial trailer gave off a markedly Dreamworks-ish vibe, with its talking animals a little too smug, a little too street-smart. Audiences still have yet to see any footage from the actual film (though the character stills, embedded above, will tide us all over until that fine day comes), but at least the film’s wrangled an impressive menagerie of talented performers for its voice cast.