Voice Actor Peter Cullen Reveals the Inspiration Behind Optimus Prime’s Voice


I remember being legitimately surprised in my youth when I first learned that the recently-deceased Casey Kasem did the voices for both Robin on Super Friends and Shaggy from Scooby-Doo (though in hindsight, that voice is pretty recognizable!) When it comes to voice acting, it’s pretty common for a voice actor to have several well-known characters that audiences might not immediately recognize. Peter Cullen is a perfect example of that. Though he has voiced dozens of characters since the 1960s (including the Predator in the 1987 action movie and Winnie-the-Pooh’s frequently-depressed friend Eeyore), he is best known for providing the voice of Optimus Prime for the 1984-1987 Transformers television series and the four live-action Transformers movies. In an interview with NPR, Cullen revealed the inspiration behind the voice he has used for Optimus Prime.

Cullen called returning to voice Optimus Prime — who he calls his favorite character — for each Transformers film “like slipping into an old pair of shoes that you hid in the back of your closet.”

When asked what inspired the voice of Optimus Prime all those years ago, Cullen reveals that he was inspired by his brother. He reveals, “I auditioned like everybody else. I was told it was a hero, and I was told it was a truck. I was living with my brother Larry at the time. He had returned from service as a Marine in Vietnam, and I told him one day I was going out to audition for a truck. And he says, ‘A truck?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but he’s a hero truck.’ ‘This is really good, Pete, yeah,’ he said … ‘Well, if you’re going to be a hero, be a real hero. Don’t be a Hollywood stereotypical thing with the yelling and screaming.’ He said, ‘Be strong enough to be gentle.’ And Larry was that way. I had no idea what the script was going to be. But in effect, the lines just came out, and I just did my brother, Larry.”

Leave a Reply

Matthew McConaughey Reveals How He Came Up With His Catchphrase, ‘Alright, alright, alright!’
"My character, David Wooderson, he has three lines in the entire film. Alright, but one of those lines is what I like to call a launch pad line." - Matthew McConaughey
Jennifer Jason Leigh on ‘The Hateful Eight’, Quentin Tarantino and Playing People in “Extreme Circumstances”
Jennifer Jason Leigh: "I think that's an incredible thing that we can do as actors—to feel empathy toward someone that you may otherwise detest, you know?”
Ian McKellen on Working with Child Actors and How He Transitioned from a Stage Actor to a Screen Actor
"And I think when I decided to become professional, my only aim, really, was to get better as an actor." - Ian McKellen
New ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ Star Tyler Lea on Taking Over from a Tony Award Winner
"I haven't done a whole lot. This is my first huge thing. This is my first bite. I was waiting it out and then I caught a really, really big fish." - Tyler Lea
Master of None’s Noël Wells Talks Positive Attitudes and Having Nothing To Lose
Noel Wells starring role alongside Aziz Ansari in his Netflix series, Master of None, has audiences in stitches
// BLOCK AD BLOCK SNIPPET Place this code snippet near the footer of your page before the close of the /body tag