SacAnime 2015: Panel with Peter Cullen – More than meets the eye

optimus prime

For those of us lucky enough to have grown up in the ’80s and ’90s, we spent many Saturday mornings watching cartoons. There were almost so many to keep track of that many were often lost in the shuffle. However there are some major staples that everyone knows and could never forget such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, Spider-Man, DuckTales. I, like many others, could go on forever talking about the favorites from my childhood.

The reason why I bring this talk of nostalgia is last weekend, SacAnime 2015 fans were treated to a very special panel featuring none other than Peter Cullen. Now if you don’t recognize the name, you should because he has been in the voice acting scene for over 5 decades. Yes that’s right, boys and girls, Cullen is a voice actor with over 50 years of roles and experience. You name just about any popular cartoon from the past 50 years and there is a pretty good chance that Peter Cullen played a role in that show.

He is most widely known for being the original voice actor for Optimus Prime and Ironhide in the original Transformers animated series back in mid ’80s. Although this wasn’t his first big role in cartoons or TV, these are roles that Cullen’s name is often synonymous with. For me regardless of how much time passes, Optimus Prime’s trusted catchphrase, “Transform and roll out!” will always be Peter Cullen.

During the panel we were treated to stories of his audition experiences for both the original Transformers TV show as well as the most recent films from Michael Bay. Some will recall there was a time where the new Optimus was going to be voiced by someone different, but thanks to fans’ pressure on Paramount and even Michael Bay, the role was rightfully placed in Peter Cullen’s hands. We were treated in person to the original haunting yet incredible sound of the Predator from the 1987 classic sci-fi film, Predator. If this sound gave you goosebumps while watching the movie, it would have made your spine tingle hearing it in person. It was as if the Predator was in the room with each and everyone of us, just stalking its prey while waiting for the right moment take down its prey.


Now I could talk about all his roles from being Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh all the way to K.A.R.R. in Knight Rider, but true fans will already recognize him from those roles. While I can’t regale you with every story of this legendary voice actor’s panel, just know that if Peter Cullen is hosting a panel during next convention in your town, I strongly urge you to find time in your schedule for the chance to meet and listen to this legendary voice actor is time and money well spent.

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