Since 1984, just one person has played the voice of Autobot leader Optimus Prime: Canadian voice actor Peter Cullen. The 81-year-old began voicing Optimus Prime in for the original Transformers cartoon and has never stopped since. From the Michael Bay movies to the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, the voice of Optimus Prime has always been the distinctive, bass-heavy tones of Cullen. The man’s voice is so good — he was always the guy who pulled us into various worlds in countless movie trailers throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s.
But not anymore! The next animated Transformers reboot movie — called Transformers: One — will feature a new actor in the voice role of Optimus Prime: Chris Hemsworth!
While Chris Hemsworth is obviously great, and wonderful as Thor, replacing Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime just feels...wrong. Apparently, Transformers: One will be a full reboot, which tells the origin story of Prime and Megatron, which will feature an impressive voice cast including the following:
- Chris Hemsworth - Optimus Prime
- Brian Tyree Henry - Megatron
- Scarlett Johansson - Elita
- Keegan-Michael Key - Bumblebee
- Jon Hamm - Sentinel Prime
- Laurence Fishburne - Alpha Trion
Now, in the past, the Transformers franchise has certainly never shied away from stunt-casting when it comes to famous voices. In 1986, Transformers: The Movie (you’ve got the touch!) featured Robert Stack as Ultra Magnus, Leonard Nimoy as Galvatron, Judd Nelson as Hot Rodd, and in one of his final performances, Orson Welles as the voice of the planet-eating monster Transformer, Unicron. So historically having famous people as the voices of our robots in disguise is fine. But why change Prime? Arguably, it’s also odd that Frank Welker isn’t voicing Megatron, but it feels like most fans would agree that Megatron isn’t quite as iconic as Cullen’s voice as Prime.
Transformers: One could be awesome and with this amount of talent, there’s good reason to believe it will be great. And, in fairness, Alan Tudyk has been playing the voice of Optimus Prime on the Paramount+ cartoon Transformers: EarthSpark, and nobody has been mad about that.
Still, the revelation that Hemsworth replacing Peter Cullen in Transformers: One has ignited the ire of ‘80s and ‘90s OG Transformers fans everywhere. On Twitter “Peter Cullen” has been trending since April 27, and most of the responses have ranged from confused to negative. Will Transformers fans be able to calm down and accept Chris Hemsworth as the new Prime? Will we believe he’s really a massive transforming diesel semi-truck with a heart of pure energon?
On July 19, 2024, Transformers: One will be released and then we’ll all learn if Hemsworth truly has the touch.