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A famous actor whose animated counterpart is essentially the actor themselves. Actors playing themselves is an admittedly common occurrence, but one that makes less sense in animation.

Some of this began with traditional 2D animated movies; Disney’s Aladdin gave top billing to Robin Williams note , in a very successful example, partly because he was enough of a character to be funny on his own. Movie makers noticed they could bank on an actor’s star power even if viewers never saw the actor.

Later, it became common to give voice acting jobs to actors who didn’t traditionally perform voice acting, just to get their names on movie posters. One simple example is for the actors to play themselves, with the assumption that the audience will recognize them anyway. This can be taken to extremes when the animated character is modified to look like the actor, even if that requires a bizarre caricature that makes no sense in the story. This has a strange effect: The character feels less genuine, as if the writers just “stole” the actor to make into a character.

The transition from 2D cel animation to computer animated “3D” films, both in the stylistic and literal sense, in both movies and computer games, has made accurately ink-suiting actors much easier, therefore introducing an element of “because we can” to the proceedings. It’s also become common practice, especially in video games, for an ink suited actor to be showing going through the motions and “acting,” while someone else (usually a name actor) provides the voice.

Many animation purists (and voice actors such as Billy West) criticize the practice, calling it “stunt casting” and denigrating it as breaking Suspension of Disbelief or pandering to the actor. Some also insinuate that big names are cast instead of talented unknowns because the story couldn’t support itself on its own, and the talent hired is not really relevant to the story or role anyway. In addition, the studios who do this often seem to assume that voice acting is a simpler facsimile of “real” acting; in fact, it requires a completely different set of skills.

The advantage to this is it can assist the animator in getting the details and mannerisms to look correct, since it is even easier to reproduce the mannerisms of an actor in three dimensions than in (the already commonly done) two dimensions. Also, there is more “acting” in voice acting than most people think; it is almost impossible to voice act properly without making facial expressions and gestures in front of the microphone.