What the voices behind your favorite Disney characters are doing now

Chances are you're familiar with the voices of Disney's popular characters as they were likely a big part of your childhood or your children's childhood. Not only did you hear their voices on the big screen, but often also in sequels, toys, commercials, video games and theme park rides. You can probably close your eyes at this very moment and hear these characters belting out a tune or delivering one of their films' famous lines.

But what about the actors who voiced these Disney characters — what do you know about them? Disney has been known to turn to household names such as Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Matthew Broderick and Ellen Degeneres for some of its voice roles, but sometimes the characters were even more famous than the actors who voiced them. Quick: Name the actors who voiced Ariel or Aladdin. See what we mean? But don't worry, we're here to fill you in on who played the voices behind your favorite Disney characters and what they're doing now.

Jodi Benson (Ariel)

Mostly a stage actress when she landed the role of homo sapien-wannabe Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Jodi Benson would go on to enjoy a long career in the animation world. Following the success of the "Under the Sea" movie, which kicked off the Disney Renaissance, Benson lent her voice to various animated TV shows and straight-to-video Disney sequels including The Little Mermaid and Hercules.

Benson's biggest role, outside of The Little Mermaid, has been Barbie in Toy Story. She voiced the classic doll in the franchise's second and third films and is attached to the fourth movie in 2019. "My feeling was to make her smart and loyal and passionate," Benson told NBC New York. "I wanted to make (her) real. Not plastic." Speaking of reprising roles, Benson returned to the role of Ariel decades later, this time in the Wreck-it Ralph sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet. Benson is what you'd call a Disney lifer.

Paige O'Hara (Belle)

Paige O'Hara's story is similar to that of Jodi Benson. Both got their start in Broadway, and both landed their famous Disney roles (in O'Hara's case, Belle in Beauty and the Beast) after catching the ear of Howard Ashman, who scored their respective breakout Disney films.

The difference is Disney has stuck with Benson as Ariel all these years, but replaced O'Hara — meaning she's no longer the go-to voice for Belle. How did she take the news? "I was very upset," O'Hara told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2012, citing her maturing voice as the reason for the switch. "I did have to work really hard and vocalize soprano for hours on end to get it up there."

But O'Hara hasn't completely cut off ties with Disney. She earned a gig as a Disney Fine Artist thanks to her impressive paintings of Belle. And she's been given another crack at Belle in Ralph Breaks the Internet. "I felt like this is a real blessing at this point in my career," O'Hara told Movie Web.

Scott Weinger (Aladdin)

Scott Weinger voiced the titular character in the Arab folktale Aladdin in the '90s, around the same time he was playing D.J.'s boyfriend, Steve, on Full House. Fast forward two decades and, wouldn't you know it, Weinger is still voicing Aladdin and still playing Steve. He's the voice of Aladdin in the Disney Infinity video games (has his voice not changed since he first played the character at 17 years old?) and he reprised his Full House role in the show's Netflix reboot, Fuller House.

But it's behind the camera where he seems to do most of his work the past few years. Weinger has served as a writer and producer on TV series such as the 90210 reboot, The Neighbors, Black-Ish and The Muppets. "There were times when I was starting my writing career where I thought, "Man, why didn't I go to law school?" Weinger told HuffPost. "But I don't regret it."

Chris Sarandon (Jack Skellington)

You might have a hard time getting Chris Sarandon to deliver the lines he made famous in The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's not that he's completely put the role of Jack Skellington behind him, though. Far from it — since the release of the stop animation film in 1993, he's voiced the Pumpkin King in several Disney video games. It's just that the former Oscar nominated actor told Florida Supercon he has a deal with Disney, which prevents him from speaking in Skellington in public without Disney's permission.

But Sarandon still answers questions about Skellington and signs tons (and we mean tons) of Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise when doing the comic convention rounds. "Literally every time I go to sign something I go 'Oh, I've never seen this before," Sarandon told Global News Morning Calgary. Susan Sarandon's ex also keeps busy by making the occasional TV appearance, including on Psych, The Good Wife, Orange is the New Black and, for those who enjoy his voice work, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Simba)

Jonathan Taylor Thomas used to be kind of a big deal. He had a hit sitcom with Home Improvement and a rising film career, not to mention teen heartthrob status. His biggest movie was 1994's The Lion King, which saw Thomas voice young Simba in the $968 million worldwide box office smash. But then, in a move you don't see very often in the industry, Thomas took a step back from the limelight. "I'd been going nonstop since I was 8 years old," Thomas told People. "I wanted to go to school, to travel and have a bit of a break."

The acting appearances became less frequent and then almost non-existent, except for a few cameos on former Home Improvement co-star Tim Allen's sitcom Last Man Standing. Thomas now seems more interested in other aspects of the industry. He's done some directing on Last Man Standing and apparently shopped around a pilot he wrote with fellow Home Improvement actor Zachery Ty Bryan in 2016. In 2017, he was elected to the SAG-AFTRA national board. Thomas proves that not everyone is in it for the fame.

Irene Bedard (Pocahontas)

Pocahontas was such a smash hit at the box office in 1995 that it vaulted mostly unknown actress Irene Bedard — who voiced the Native American hero —  onto People's Most Beautiful People list that same year. What it didn't do, however, was vault Bedard onto the A-list. She has enjoyed a quiet but steady career since hearing the wolf cry to the blue corn moon, mostly in smaller TV shows such as The Mist and Longmire, and mini-series Into the West.

Some of her bigger post-Pocahontas projects include Tree of Life and Westworld (she was the Ghost Nation mother Wichapi). Bedard also played the co-President of the U.S. in Jay-Z's star-studded "Family Feud" music video. "I got to tell my son about this," Bedard said in an interview with Indian Country Today. "He was like, 'what?' This project gave me some teenager cool points." 

Bedard continues to lend her voice to Pocahontas, who makes an appearance in Ralph Breaks the Internet. There's a Disney princess reunion in that movie, in case you haven't caught on by now.

Tom Hulce (Quasimodo)

Just because Tom Hulce has been M.I.A. from the big screen doesn't mean he's gone into isolation like the character he voiced in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The former Oscar-nominated actor — who voiced Notre Dame bell-ringer Quasimodo in the 1996 film — has gone into theater producing after falling out of love with acting. "Something shifted, and I never want to act again," Hulce told Paige Six. 'Loved it but no more. I haven't acted in 15 years. My awards are in a trunk here, shelf there." 

Unlike others on the list, it doesn't appear Hulce will voice his Disney character again. He hasn't done so since the film's sequel in 2002 (another actor, Ari Rubin, played Quasimodo in Kingdom Hearts 3D). Hulce is busy enjoying the second act of his career, which earned him a 2007 Best Musical Tony for Spring Awakening (is that award in his trunk too?) and 2010 Best Musical Tony nomination for the Green Day-inspired American Idiot. His Temptations-inspired jukebox musical, Ain't Too Proud to Beg, is heading to Broadway in 2019. Looks like the career change paid off.

Ming-Na Wen (Mulan)

Ming-Na Wen is further proof that once you're a Disney Princess, you're always a Disney Princess. Since voicing the titular role in 1998's Mulan, Wen has voiced the Chinese warrior in a sequel (Mulan II), animated series (Sofia the First), video games (Kingdom Hearts II) and again on the big screen (Ralph Breaks the Internet). "She does sit on the fence, but Disney always considers her a princess in an honorary way," Wen told TV Guide. Mulan isn't technically a princess — she's the daughter of a military hero. "I'm so glad they cheated a little and let me in the club!" 

As for the live-action Mulan film, Wen is thrilled its in the works, even if she's not currently involved. "I love the fact that they want to forge ahead and do something with an Asian character that's furthering that storyline," Wen told Game Spot. But Mulan isn't the only Disney butt-kicker on Wen's resume. She co-stars on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Agent Melinda May. Just how physical is the role? Wen told Game Spot she has snapped her ACL and meniscus and chipped teeth during filming. Ouch. 

Tony Goldwyn (Tarzan)

Tarzan co-director Kevin Lima told Entertainment Weekly he chose Tony Goldwyn for the voice of the shirtless jungle hero after sitting through countless auditions (including two from Brendan Fraser) thanks to his "animal sense." As is the norm for Disney voice actors, Goldwyn would return to the role in video games, including Kingdom Hearts.

In recent years, Goldwyn has become better known as one third of the love triangle on Scandal, where he played POTUS Fitz Grant. Surprisingly, the show is the first in which Goldwyn — who has appeared on shows Without a Trace, The L Word and Dexter, among others — was a series regular. Goldwyn told Fansided "getting to play a character like Fitz and being part of a show like this in my fifties surprised me. Especially a character that's sort of a sex symbol…"

Scandal wrapped up its seven-season run in 2018, freeing Goldwyn up to hit the stage in Broadway's Network, opposite Bryan Cranston, and Netflix's upcoming series Chambers, starring Uma Thurman. 

Daveigh Chase (Lilo)

The part of Hawaiian orphan Lilo in Lilo and Stitch proved to be a breakout role for Daveigh Chase, who was only 11 when the film was released in 2002. She reprised the role in the animated series, sequels and video games, while also finding work outside of Disney. Believe it or not, she played creepy ghost Samara in The Ring and the underage bride of a cult leader in HBO's Big Love. It appeared to be going so well for the child star, but then she started making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

First she was arrested (but never charged) in 2017 after dumping a man outside of a hospital, where he would be pronounced dead, according to The Blast. That same year, Chase was booked on a felony charge for driving in a car without the owner's consent. Then she followed that joy ride up with a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance. Chase continues to act every now and then, but in lesser known films such as Jack Goes Home and American Romance.