The classic Pixar production, A Bug’s Life, brought together an amazingly talented group of people, including Kevin Spacey, David Hyde Pierce and Denis Leary. So, twelve years on from the film’s original release, and to tie in with its UK debut on Blu-ray, we ask, where are the voices behind A Bug’s Life now, and what have they done since?
Dave Foley – Flik
One of the former members of The Kids In The Hall and a stand-up comedian, Dave Foley has been well occupied since providing the voice for Flik. He’s either providing voice talent for animated TV shows, or appearing in person as in a stint on Will And Grace, and the mini-series Kids In The Hall: Death Comes To Town.
Kevin Spacey – Hopper
When he’s not promoting Virgin Airways, Kevin Spacey’s usually following his other interests in being an actor, writer, director, producer and musical performer. He’s also the artistic director of the Old Vic, a position he took up in 2003 and promised to hold for at least ten years.
In 2006, he made it known that he intends to take UK citizenship, having lived here for some time.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Atta
The career of Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been action packed, after she first gained notoriety on Saturday Night Live in the mi-80s. A Bug’s Life came at the end of appearing in 173 episodes of Seinfeld, although she had done plenty of voice work previously. Since then, she’s been in Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Simpsons, was the lead actor in The New Adventures Of Old Christine, and most recently appeared in 30 Rock.
Hayden Panettiere – Dot
Hayden has become more famous since the movie mostly through her leading role in the TV series Heroes. Since she gave up being the indestructible cheerleader, she’s been cast in the remake of The Black Hole.
Phyllis Diller – Queen
A unique performer, Phyllis Diller first appeared on screen in 1961, when she was then 44. That makes her 93, and she’s still going strong. Since Bug’s, she’s been in a soap, The Bold And The Beautiful, provided voice talent for Family Guy, The Powerpuff Girls and The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, among others.
Richard Kind – Molt
Possibly one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood today, Richard Kind’s a regular animation voice talent and a staple of both TV and film. The list of things he’s done since A Bug’s Life is vast, but includes TV appearances on Leverage, Burn Notice, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Two And A Half Men, Stargate: Atlantis and Scrubs. He’s also done lots of voice work, and even got to be the Bookworm in Toy Story 3.
David Hyde Pierce – Slim
David Hyde Pierce is perhaps best known for being Frasier’s brother, Dr. Niles Crane, something he was doing before working with Pixar and returned to for a further six years after completing A Bug’s Life. He’s since almost exclusively moved into voiceover work, including The Simpsons, and Abe Sapien in Hellboy. This year, he returned to film acting, appearing as Warwick Wilson in the thriller The Perfect Host.Joe Ranft – Heimlich
Sadly, Joe Ranft died in 2005 at the age of just 45, from injuries sustained in a road accident. His career to that point was extraordinary, having written the stories for Oliver & Company, Beauty And The Beast, and The Lion King, and worked with John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton to create A Bug’s Life. Ranft was also a sketch artist and story supervisor before becoming a regular voice talent.
He was the voice of Lenny the Binoculars in the first Toy Story movie, was Wheezy in the second and contributed to Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Cars. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride was one of his last projects and that film is dedicated to his memory.
Denis Leary – Francis
A hugely well-known stand-up comedian and actor before working with Pixar, he’s since got his own animation franchise as Diego in the Ice Age movies. He has also moved into writing, as in his serious long-running TV series, Rescue Me. He’s recently been connected with the Spider-Man reboot, playing Gwen Stacy’s father.
Jonathan Harris – Manny
The unmistakable Jonathan Harris is well remembered for playing the conniving Dr. Smith in the original Lost In Space TV series. For geeks, he’ll also be remembered as the voice of the Cylon Lucifer in the original Battlestar Galactica TV series.
After playing Manny, he worked again for Pixar as Geri the Cleaner in Toy Story 2.
In 2002, Jonathan Harris sadly passed away just a few days before his 88th birthday.
Madeline Kahn – Gypsy Moth
In a stunning career that encompassed stage, TV and film, A Bug’s Life was one of Madeline Kahn’s last productions, although she managed to fit this in between the 60 episodes of The Cosby Show she appeared in between 1996 and 1999. She died just a year after A Bug’s Life, at the age of just 57.
I’ll always remember her for the wonderfully absurd characters she played in Mel Brookes’ movies, such as Lili Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles.
Bonnie Hunt – Rosie
An amazingly talented person, Bonnie Hunt is an actress, writer, producer and director, and has appeared in such diverse productions as Jerry Maguire, The Green Mile and Cheaper By The Dozen and its sequel.
She went to Pixar having produced her own talk show, The Bonnie Hunt Show, which has since returned, now approaching its 300th episode. She still works for Pixar on occasion, providing voice work for Monsters, Inc., Cars (and soon Cars 2), and Toy Story 3.Michael McShane – Tuck and Roll
Connecting many dots here, Michael McShane appeared on Frasier, and Seinfeld, but is best known in the UK for his amazing contributions to Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Since working with Pixar, he’s split his time between animated voice work, cameo TV show appearances and stage work.John Ratzenberger – P.T. Flea
A hardy perennial at Pixar, he’s provided the Hamm voice for all the Toy Story movies, and the Abominable Snowman for Monsters, Inc. He’s also in Finding Nemo, The Incredibles (he’s the Underminer at the end), Cars and its sequel, Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up. He does make the occasional TV and film appearance away from Pixar (and Cheers fans will recognise him as Cliff Clavin), but he’s best known these days for his dry and resonating voice.Brad Garrett – Dim
Another actor who, once he’d worked with Pixar, returned multiple times for its productions. He provided the voice of Dim while in the middle of a 208 episode run of Everyone Loves Raymond, where he played Robert Barone. But he’d done plenty of voice work before, including Transformers, and Biker Mice From Mars.
Since A Bug’s Life, he’s returned to Pixar to be Bloat in Finding Nemo, and voiced Chef Gusteau for Ratatouille. He’s also in Disney’s Tangled, while since 2006 he’s been the lead character in US TV comedy Til Death.
A Bug’s Life is available on Blu-ray now.
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