As we get older, certain knowledge vacates our brains like cereal pouring out of a box. I can’t remember any formulas from geometry class and I’m not 100-percent certain of my own state bird, but, dammit, I know my Disney characters. We all do. But do we really? We know every word from “Part of Your World” and “Hakuna Matata,” but do we know the performers behind the doe-eyed animated stars? Now, you can say you do. We all know the big stars, like that Mandy Moore was Rapunzel in Tangled or that Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell star in Frozen, but that’s just the tip of the Disney iceberg. Let’s take a peek behind the cartoon curtain and check out the real performers who brought our favorite Disney characters to life.
Ariel, The Little Mermaid
While her appearance is modeled after none other than Alyssa Milano, Ariel’s voice comes to us courtesy of Jodi Benson. Benson also provided the voice for Barbie in Toy Storys 2 and 3, as well as several other voice roles, and she appeared in Enchanted as Patrick Dempsey’s receptionist.
Prince Eric, The Little Mermaid
If you wondered why Prince Eric seemed particularly happenin’ in a far out way, that’s because he was played by none other than Christopher Daniel Barnes, who also starred as Greg Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie. The actor who now specializes in voice work, can most recently be heard as Electro in The Ultimate Spider-Man series.
Belle, Beauty and the Beast
Disney’s most book-loving princess, Belle’s voice came from Broadway actress Paige O’Hara. O’Hara also appeared in Enchanted as a soap opera actress.
Jasmine’s speaking voice was provided by actress Linda Larkin (right), and her singing voice was Broadway star Lea Solonga (center), who appeared onstage as Kim in Miss Saigon and both Fantine and Eponine in Les Miserables. She also provided the song stylings for another Disney princess. You’ll have to scroll down to find out who.
Yes, Aladdin was voiced by DJ Tanner’s boyfriend Steve, Scott Weinger. Even more fascinating? His singing voice was provided by Brad Caleb Kane, now a writer set to pen the upcoming Daredevil reboot. So when you see the new Daredevil, you’ll know that he’s truly one jump ahead of the lawmen.
Simba, The Lion KingSimba’s speaking voice was brought to us by arguably two of the most important actors of our youth: Jonathan Taylor Thomas (center) and Matthew Broderick (right). Jason Weaver and Joseph Williams provided the singing.
The speaking voice for Pocahontas was provided by Irene Bedard (right), a Native American actress with Inupiat, Inuit, Cree and Métis ancestry. The role was sung by three-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn (center), best known for her onstage performance as Cosette in Les Miserables.
Fa Mulan, Mulan
Oh yes. Mulan has ties to SHIELD. Voiced by actress Ming-Na, famous for Agents of SHIELD, ER, and The Joy Luck Club, Mulan’s singing voice was provided by Lea Solonga, making her the singing voice for two different Disney princesses.
Tiana, The Princess and the Frog
Princess Tiana, Disney’s first African-American princess, was voiced by Anika Noni Rose, who won a Tony for her role in Caroline or Change, and starred in the film versions of Dreamgirls and For Colored Girls.
Technically a Pixar princess, Merida was voiced by star of No Country for Old Men and Boardwalk Empire, Kelly Macdonald.
Sofia, Sofia the First
Disney’s newest TV princess, Sofia, beloved by toddlers everywhere, is voiced by the Dunphy family’s smartest child. Sofia is played — both singing and speaking — by Modern Family’s Alex Dunphy, Ariel Winter.
[Photo Credit: Disney, Getty Images]