In the new film “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” Peter Cullen returns as the voice of Optimus Prime, a character he has voiced time and again for almost 30 years.
Cullen’s career spans over 50 years of voice work. He has given his voice talents not only to various Transformers over the years, but also has been placed in front of a microphone to give voice to such iconic characters as King Kong, Gizmo in the Gremlins films, and Eeyore in his many trips to the world of Winnie the Pooh.
Cullen auditioned for the role of Optimus Prime at a casting house in Burbank, California, explaining that as he read Prime’s character breakdown, he saw that it was “the opportunity of the year.”
In several interviews, Cullen has said that, “Real heroes don’t yell and act tough; they are tough enough to be gentle, so control yourself.”
He has stated that Optimus is his favorite voice role, and that he based the voice of the Autobot leader on his older brother Larry, who served in Vietnam.
“When he came home, I could see a change. He was quieter and he was a man and a hero to me,” Cullen said. “I watched him and listened to him. I’d never had an opportunity to do a superhero, and when that came, [that voice] just came right out of me and I sounded like Optimus.”
Cullen also had no idea of Prime’s popularity until the character’s controversial death in the 1986 animated film, as the studio had never given him fan letters from children addressed to Optimus.
The public backlash over Optimus’ death surprised producers greatly. Children were leaving the theaters because of the character’s death.
Cullen returned to the role of Optimus Prime in 2007, when Michael Bay released “Transformers” into theaters.
Cullen returns to the role that he is remembered for in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” which hits theaters nationwide on June 29.