‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ Cast Secretly Reunites 2 ’90s Action Movie Icons

In the 12 years since Despicable Me introduced them to the world, the Minions have become titans of big-screen animation. Now that theaters are back in full swing, Universal and Illumination aren’t about to let the little yellow goggled critters stay away. Minions: The Rise of Gru aims to reassert the characters’ place on the pop cultural landscape. But the Minions: The Rise of Gru cast packs a few surprises for longtime fans.

headshot of Minions: The Rise of Gru cast member Dolph Lundgren at the June 25 Hollywood premiere of the movie
‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ cast member Dolph Lundgren | Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

Steve Carell and Pierre Coffin reprise their roles from ‘Minions’

Over the years, the Despicable Me/Minions franchise has landed some fascinating actors for key roles. Jason Segel, Benjamin Bratt, Trey Parker, and Oscar winner Sandra Bullock all voiced villains in the franchise. And Al Pacino nearly starred in 2013’s Despicable Me 2. But fans shouldn’t worry that Minions: The Rise of Gru will stray far from what’s worked in the past.

Steve Carell reprises his role from every previous film as Felonious Gru. As in Minions, Carell plays a young version of his character from the Despicable Me series. Filmmaker Pierre Coffin — who has co-directed every film in the franchise — also is back voicing the Minions. Plus, Julie Andrews and Russell Brand reprise their roles as Gru’s mom, Marlena Gru, and Dr. Nefario, respectively.  

‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ cast reunites a pair of action movie icons

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In addition to Carell and other past franchise stars, Minions: The Rise of Gru features a star-studded supporting cast of newcomers to the series. This time around, the story sees young Gru run afoul of a supervillain team known as the Vicious 6. Taraji P. Henson voices the group’s leader, Belle Bottom. And Danny Trejo and Lucy Lawless play other members.

However, perhaps the most intriguing casting in Minions: The Rise of Gru is the inclusion of action icons Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. The two stars have each made their name in the action genre, particularly in the 1990s. They have also co-starred in several movies, including The Expendables 2. And they co-led 1992’s Universal Soldier and reunited for two sequels in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

The supporting cast includes a major 2022 breakout star

In Minions: The Rise of Gru, the Minions will be tasked with rescuing their new boss from the Vicious 6. Thankfully, they’re going to have help going up against a foe as formidable as the Vicious 6. Michelle Yeoh voices Master Chow, a kung fu fighter who assists the Minions in their quest.

Yeoh is, of course, a screen legend and action icon in her own right. But in 2022, she landed a new career highlight with her critically acclaimed turn in Everything Everywhere All At Once. It has become one of the year’s most well-reviewed movies. And with her role in Minions: The Rise of Gru, Yeoh is likely to have another hit. 

Minions: The Rise of Gru officially hits theaters July 1.

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