When it comes to animated movies, Disney has a hold like no other, and so many of their works have become classic adaptations of tales from around the world. The legend of Tarzan has been adapted far and wide, and Disney’s animated treatment of the story in 1999 became a huge hit.
In the tale, Tarzan had been raised by an ape named Kala since he was orphaned as a young child. When he rescued a woman named Jane, everything changed. Suddenly, Tarzan knows that he’s human, and he has to grapple with how his past and his future are colliding. The tale ultimately explores themes of family, love, and identity, and Disney’s version does it all with colorful characters and catchy dialogue that captures kids’ imaginations.
The voice actors who helped bring these characters to life really made the film the success that it is.
‘Tarzan’ included some A-list stars as the voice actors
If you’re re-watching this classic from two decades ago and think the voices sound familiar, you’re probably right! The star-studded cast brought on actors that have wowed in other roles before and since.
As IMDb shows, Tarzan was voiced by none other than Tony Goldwyn. These days, the actor is best known for his dramatic roles in television series like Scandal, Lovecraft Country, and Chambers. He’s certainly made a big change from his days of voicing the vine-swinging animated orphan!
Goldwyn’s not the only star whose voice probably rang a bell. The actor behind Kala was Glenn Close, who was already well-established in Disney lore from her live-action performance as Cruella DeVil in the 1996 film 101 Dalmatians. Of course, this wide-ranging actor is not limited to such family-friendly fare and has nearly 100 acting credits to her name, including other voice work on shows like The Simpsons (where she voices Mona Simpson) and her lead role in Hillbilly Elegy.
Other notable stars in Tarzan include Minnie Driver — famous for her role in Good Will Hunting. Driver provided a voice to Jane, Tarzan’s love interest and the catalyst for his identity exploration. Rosie O’Donnell provided the voice for Terk, and Lily Collins provided the voice for a baby ape.
‘Tarzan 2’ brought on many new voices
In 2005, Disney decided to recapture some of the magic by creating a prequel titled Tarzan 2: The Legend Begins. This tale focused on Tarzan’s upbringing as a child raised in the jungle, and it provided an opportunity for some established characters to be joined by new faces (and voices).
Glenn Close reprised her part as Kala, but the much-younger Tarzan needed a new voice. The part was filled by teenager Harrison Chad, who went on to voice Boots on Dora the Explorer.
Perhaps the most surprising voice for the film is from profane funnyman George Carlin. The comedian provided the voice for Zugor, an old hermit ape who has lived in infamy as the “monster” the youngsters of the jungle fear. Carlin died just three years after Tarzan 2‘s release, and voice work for animated films (including Cars) marked the famed comedian’s final roles.
‘The Legend of Tarzan’ provided a more mature take
While Disney has been giving a lot of its animated classics live-action refreshes, the 2016 film The Legend of Tarzan was not part of this effort. Distributed by Warner Bros. — and not Disney — the film takes on a decidedly more mature tone.
In this PG-13 version, Tarzan has already left the jungle and acclimated to life in London, but he’s called back to his former home as a guest of the Belgian King Leopold. Once there, he and his wife Jane are captured by Leopold’s henchmen as they uncover the dark truth of Leopold’s African conquest.
The film — which received a dismal 35% score from Rotten Tomatoes — was not well-received. It starred Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie.