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Well, technically, it's LeBron James as depicted in Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Bart: That's not Krusty the Clown!
Mr. Black: Wh-What do you think — I slapped a clown suit on some wino? (chuckles nervously and pulls at his shirt collar) I mean...
Barney: (dressed as Krusty) Yeah, Bart! I am so Krunchy the Clown! (belches)

Every now and then, someone in the biz will become just the right kind of hot commodity. Kids are going crazy for 'em — slap their picture on a Trapper Keeper and it'll be gone from the shelf before you can say "cynical marketeering." What better way, then, to hype this piece of human merchandise than for them to star in their very own cartoon? Kids love cartoons, right? And here's the best part — they don't even have to be in it!

After all, celebrities are busy people, right? They're going places, doing things, making appearances. It would be downright rude of you to ask them to actually record their own voices for their cartoon show, wouldn't it? Especially when the draw of the celebrity name is expected to make up for lack of decent writing and animation. Plus you would have to pay them!

Yes, all you need is a licensing fee, a barely reasonable voice impersonator, a dirt-cheap animator, and an option of IN SPACE and you've got a cash cow the whole family can enjoy!

Alternately, this can happen if you've got the license to some aging or dead celebrity's likeness, and you're willing to squeeze every last drop of money out of it.

Especially common with shows about musicians, since you can drop in a song by the musicians in each episode to up the appearance of celebrity-association. At least with the music segments you'll probably have to keep their singing voices, leaving your own Non-Singing Voice actors to play them for the rest of the show.

Often, the characters are flanderized versions of the celebrities' public personas, and can therefore veer into third-party Adam Westing.

Compare and contrast Celebrity Toons, which may star the person in question.


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  • Pink Lady Monogatari: Eiko no Tenshitachi is an anime telling the story of real-life Japanese pop duo Pink Lady. The singers didn't voice their characters, nor the opening or the ending songs. They only appeared in some live-action sections.

  • Forrest Gump uses archival footage to depict the titular character meeting historical figures, including Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, as well as Alabama Governor George Wallace and Beatle John Lennon.
  • Happens a lot in biopics:
    • In The Jolson Story, Larry Parks played Al Jolson, but used Jolson's actual singing voice.
    • In another musical Biopic, Three Little Words, Helen Kane sang "I Wanna Be Loved By You" in her own voice, though Debbie Reynolds appeared as her on screen.
    • And let's not forget Jamie Foxx in Ray. Those songs are all the original recordings by Ray Charles.
    • Angela Bassett played Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), but not only was Tina's singing voice used, she actually re-recorded the songs for the film. Averted in the same movie, however: Laurence Fishburne, as Ike, actually does sing his parts on "Proud Mary."
    • In Great Balls of Fire!, Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis has his singing done by The Killer himself (but Quaid really is playing the piano).
    • The 1990s TV movie The Jacksons: An American Dream (based on Katherine Jackson's book My Family) does this. All the Jackson family members are played by actors but for most songs, they used original recordings of the Jacksons singing with others using new recordings of the songs by other singers.
    • Bohemian Rhapsody had Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, but used Freddie's original recordings for the songs. The only times Rami actually does sing are when Freddie improvised. Also, a stand-in is used for scenes involving Freddie's cats as Rami is allergic.
    • House of Gucci: Grace Jones and Karl Lagerfeld attend fashion shows in The '90s. They're both played by actors (Lagerfeld would have been too old and passed away in 2019 way before filming began, and Jones is over 70).
    • Factory Girl, the biopic of Edie Sedgwick, has Mick Jagger turn up at one of Andy Warhol's parties—shot entirely from behind as he marches stiffly through the throng of partygoers reacting excitedly to his presence. Bob Dylan, by contrast, gets the No Celebrities Were Harmed treatment via a fictional character obviously based on him, after Dylan himself threatened to sue. Most of the other characters (Sedgwick, Warhol) were either dead or fictional composites.
  • In Scarface (1932), the alternate ending was filmed with a stand in.
  • The Lifetime biopic, Whitney, about Whitney Houston, used R&B artist Deborah Cox to sing Whitney's songs due to issues with the copyrights.
  • The Brødrene Dal movie kind of featured Trond Kirkevaag as Brumund, despite releasing three years after his 2007 death. They used recordings of their stage show from 1997 with the other two really acting while he communicated with them from afar with a video transmitter. The movie was not well received, due to still feeling too soon for the last two actors and fans.
  • Rogue One does this for both Grand Moff Tarkin and Leia Organa. The two characters are physically played by, respectively, Guy Henry and Ingvild Deila, though since the film is a prequel to the original 1977 A New Hope, the two's features are altered with CGI to make them look like the original actors for their characters, respectively Peter Cushing (who had died in 1994, Henry impersonating his voice for the role) and Carrie Fisher (pushing 60 at the time, with archived sound of her from the original film being dubbed over Deila's sole line as the character).
  • Stop! Look! And Laugh!: Despite receiving top billing, The Three Stooges only appear through Stock Footage from eleven of their shorts. They never actually appear in person during the film. Sadly this trope was enforced for Curly Howard who had died in 1952.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music Videos 

  • Batman (Stern) uses a set of unidentified voice actors to do custom clips in place of the movie actors. Oddly, the game uses a mix of movie clips and re-recorded dialog, making the transition more jarring.
  • In Twilight Zone, Tim Kitzrow does the voice of Rod Serling, who had died twenty years prior.
    • Kitzrow also voices The Shadow in the pinball based on the film, as Alec Baldwin was not available. However, Penelope Ann-Miller, John Lone, and Tim Curry voiced additional dialog with their characters.
  • For Shrek, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and the other actors were not available for custom voice work, so substitutes had to be used instead. Unfortunately, the original actors had to give final approval for their replacements' works, prolonging the game's development schedule as a result.
  • By all accounts, the substitute actor for Marty McFly in Data East's Back to the Future doesn't come anywhere close to sounding like Michael J. Fox.
  • Then there are the voice actors in Zen Studios' The Avengers digital pinball, who often don't even sound like their characters' original actors.
  • Played with in Gilligan's Island. While Bob Denver provides the voice of Gilligan, impersonators were used for Mr. Howell, and the Professor. Further played with in The Skipper's case, whose dialog consists of both a soundalike impersonator and repurposed dialog from an episode from the original series' first season.
  • Data East's Hook uses sound-alike actors instead to provide the game's callouts. Possibly justified due to the high costs of the movie's All-Star Cast.
  • Stern's The Walking Dead uses substitute voice actors instead of the stars from the AMC television show.
  • Stern's Jurassic Park similarly uses soundalikes for Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, and Richard Attenborough.
  • Back to the Future (Zen Studios) avoids using either Michael J. Fox or Christopher Lloyd's voices or likenesses.

    Video Games 
  • In The Nameless Mod, a seven-years-in-the-making modification for the first Deus Ex game, the player character is the project's lead Trestkon. Lawrence "Trestkon" Laxdal did not provide the voice (although he does other characters). Jonas Waever, another high ranking person in the development, does voice himself.
  • Quite obviously (since the characters are kids), none of the pros voice themselves in the Backyard Sports series.
  • In Back to the Future: The Game, Christopher Lloyd voices Doc Brown, but Marty is voiced by soundalike AJ LoCasio. Michael J. Fox gave Telltale Games the rights to use his likeness and his blessing, but wasn't available to do the voice acting himself. However, he does voice Marty's ancestors in the final episode, and three Martys from the future! None of the other actors from the films return to voice their characters (or their ancestors/descendants) either, except for Thomas F. Wilson (who redubbed Biff for the 2015 re-release, having been doubled by Andrew Chaikin originally) and Claudia Wells as Jennifer, for the first time since the original 1985 film.
  • The videogame "sequel" to Scarface (1983) used clips of Al Pacino's performance in the original film as well as a soundalike for new lines. Although this came with Pacino's blessing, who hand-picked his replacement: years of smoking made it impossible for Al to do the Tony Montana voice again. The soundalike in question, André Sogliuzzo, later went on to voice the character again in a PAYDAY 2 crossover DLC.
  • Lost: Via Domus features some of the actors from the TV show, but has stand-ins for other characters. However all the characters are modeled after their respective actor from the show. Even Thomas Mittelwerk from the ARG The Lost Experience makes an appearance with a model based on his actor, though without his signature ponytail.
  • James Bond tie-in games tend towards this. Electronic Arts in particular typically only secured Pierce Brosnan's likeness while hiring a sound-alike to actually voice the character, with the only standouts being Everything or Nothing (where Brosnan properly voiced the character) and 007: From Russia with Love (where Sean Connery played the character again; interestingly, both of these games are their actor's respective last times playing Bond in any capacity).note  By contrast, Activision's games almost always secured both the likeness and voice of Daniel Craig's Bond, with the only exception being 007 Legends, where Timothy Watson voices him instead (ostensibly due to Craig being busy actually acting as Bond during development).
  • Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force was initially an example, as all of the actors from Voyager returned to voice their respective characters - except for Jeri Ryan, leaving her character Seven of Nine to be voiced by Joan Buddenhagen instead. However, with the appropriately-titled Expansion Pack, Ryan returned to voice her character - the patch even replaces all of Buddenhagen's lines from the original game with Ryan redoing them, so as to remove any sort of jarring change in her voice when going from the original game to the expansion content.
  • Catwoman played up the fact that Halle Berry portrays her, to the point that the back of the game box states that she is Catwoman. However strangely, Berry only voices the level select screen. Jennifer Hale voices her in-game.
  • In Smite, when the band Slipknot had exclusive character skins, only Alessandro Venturella and Michael Pfaff were voiced by themselves.
  • Multi Versus: LeBron James is not voiced by himself, but by John Eric Bentley.
  • Spider-Man: The Movie was originally going to do this by having Spidey voiced by Josh Keaton, but late into development, Tobey Maguire became available to do a Role Reprise. Keaton’s performance thankfully didn’t have to be scrapped, as Harry Osborne hadn’t been casted for his bonus mode, so Keaton’s recordings of Spidey’s lines were transferred to him.

    Web Original 
  • Although this is not related to the regular examples, the "Dan Green" videos from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series feature a Yami plush toy voiced by... LittleKuriboh. He is terrified of girls and has a very high opinion of himself.
  • There are quite a few Utauloid voicebanks floating around the net based off of characters from either popular animes, video games, or even musicians, either through using voice samples from their show, game, or music, or by someone replicating their voice. It should be known though that, while (generally) there's no rule against creating these kinds of voicebanks, distributing said voicebanks on the net to the general public without the permission of whoever owns said character / music can get you in serious hot water with the show creator / game creator / musician, the creator of the Utauloid program, and quite possibly a good portion of the Utauloid fandom as well.

    Western Animation 
  • The classic example is The Beatles, which involved animated versions of the Fab Four in random wacky hijinks (much like in their two then-recent films A Hard Day's Night and Help!), without involving any actual Beatles. Often, the mopheads were depicted playing the wrong instruments or singing the wrong parts of their songs and not getting their speaking voices exactly right, which they greatly disliked.
    • The Beatles went on to not star in the animated movie Yellow Submarine, although they did at least have the grace to show up for a few seconds at the end. Apparently, they thought the movie was much better than the series.
    • John admitted to watching the cartoon show in the 70s when he was a stay-at-home dad to his son Sean, and George commented the cartoons were of the "so bad it's good" variety.
  • In the same vein, the leads from Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi are based on a real-life Japanese music duo who aren't fluent in English and therefore don't actually play themselves (not even in Japanese), except in brief live-action segments.
  • Rankin/Bass did this with The Jackson 5ive, with the brothers voiced by other actors, notably Donald Fullilove as Michael, and Edmund Sylvers as Marlon.
  • Hanna-Barbera did this a lot. The Laurel and Hardy Comedy Show, The Robonic Stooges, The Harlem Globetrotters and the Little Rascals shorts packaged with Pac-Man and Richie Rich all exploited likenesses they had acquired. And those shows that didn't abuse celebs' likenesses at least stole their schticks.
    • In some cases it really couldn't be helped, however: Laurel & Hardy and The Three Stooges had all passed on by then, and the surviving Our Gang actors were middle-aged adults by 1982.
    • According to the show's voice credits, Globetrotter Curly Neal was a voice—he just didn't play himself (Stu Gilliam did).
  • In 1970, Filmation produced Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down. Although Lewis created and occasionaly worked on scripts for the cartoon series (which was largely a riff on his Double Vision performance in The Family Jewels), he didn't record his own voice (Filmation did ask him, but he declined because he felt other people could do his younger voice better than he did).
  • Also in the realm of early '90s land is ProStars, a toon about a supersquad of athletes (Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson) which featured Gretzky and Jackson at the begining and end, but didn't have any of the stars' voices in the cartoon.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has James Sie voicing the animated Jackie Chan, with the real Jackie only appearing in the title sequence and live action segments at the end of each episode. Jackie is also one of the producers, so he does have some say on how he is portrayed in the show. Coincidentally, Sie would later fill in for Chan again by voicing Monkey in Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.
  • Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling featured a host of real professional wrestlers' likenesses without a single real voice among them. However, all 15 wrestlers appeared in the opening and closing, as well as bumper sketches.
  • Back to the Future: The Animated Series featured Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown in live-action segments, but his animated counterpart was voiced by Dan Castellaneta, and Marty was played by David Kaufman. Tom Wilson did return as various members of the Tannen family, and Mary Steenburgen reprised her role as Clara from the third film.
  • The Abbott and Costello animated series actually managed to get Bud Abbott to do his own voice, but featured Stan Irwin as the voice of Lou Costello (the real Lou Costello being, unfortunately, deceased by this time).
  • The 1990s New Kids on the Block cartoon featuring brief live-action clips of the singers.
  • Season two of the Laverne & Shirley cartoon on ABC saw Cindy Williams leave, with her voice role as Shirley filled with Lynn Marie Stewart.
  • Kuu Kuu Harajuku is a cartoon series created by Gwen Stefani, but she has no voice role in the show. Interestingly enough, her Author Avatar is a main character.
  • Bébé's Kids was based on a sketch by comedian Robin Harris and was originally going to star Harris As Himself in the lead role, but he died before production began and was replaced by Faizon Love. The film still begins with Harris in archived live-action footage performing the sketch.
  • Averted in the first season of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures which had George Carlin, Alex Winter, and a pre-The Matrix Keanu Reeves voice their own characters. Sadly played straight in the second season Retool, which used the same voice cast from the live-action series of the same name that had yet to be released.
  • My Dad the Rock Star was created by KISS frontman Gene Simmons, but his Author Avatar Rock Zilla was instead voiced by Lawrence Bayne. However, Gene Simmons was the series' executive producer, so he got quite a bit of say in how the show was produced, including personally choosing Lawrence Bayne as the voice of Rock Zilla.
  • Ready Jet Go!: In the episode "Astronaut Ellen Ochoa", Ellen Ochoa is featured, but she doesn't voice herself. Kathleen Barr voices her.
  • Gisele and the Green Team was created by and stars the model Gisele Bündchen, but the character wasn't voiced by the real-life model as executives worried kids wouldn't be able to understand her.
  • Hammerman was created by MC Hammer, who also performed the theme song. However, Hammer didn't voice his character in the series. Clark Johnson did.
  • Baskup - Tony Parker is a French animated series created by Belgian-French-American basketball player Tony Parker. But Parker (who was playing in the American NBA) was voiced by Martial Le Minoux.