Walt Disney Animation Has Found Its Own John Ratzenberger-Style Good Luck Charm

Pixar is well-known for including all kinds of Easter eggs in their films, but certainly one of the most notable is the consistent presence of actor John Ratzenberger. The great Cheers star began the streak playing Hamm in the 1995 hit Toy Story, and he has been a part of every production since, often referred to as the studio’s good luck charm. This is all common knowledge amongst movie fans – but what you may not know is that the folks over at Walt Disney Animation Studios have spent the last few years cultivating a good luck charm of their very own with the consistent inclusion of the fantastic Alan Tudyk.

Audiences will soon see the great character actor take on his fourth Walt Disney Animation role with a part in next year’s Zootopia, and it was while recently talking with directors Rich Moore and Byron Howard that I got confirmation of his particular "good luck" status. Acknowledging that Tudyk has been a part of each of the studio’s movies since Wreck-It Ralph, I asked the filmmakers if they view the actor’s presence as more than just another name in the cast list, and they both smiled while answering in the affirmative. Said Moore,

He’s so damn funny and he’s so versatile and he’s such a nice guy and just a great actor. He’s really funny, so glad that Jen [Lee] and Chris [Buck] used him on Frozen, and then Don [Hall] and Chris [Williams] picked him up. And we were like, what’s Alan going to play? And I know that on Moana, they’re talking about, ‘Well, what’s Alan’s part going to be?' ... You couldn’t ask for a better kind of good luck charm actor.

Alan Tudyk is probably best known for playing pilot Hoban 'Wash' Washburne on the beloved cult series Firefly, but has wound up with a special niche in the world of Disney Animation. He first voiced the hilarious/villainous King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph, but has followed that up playing the Duke of Weselton in Frozen and Alistair Krei in Big Hero 6. Even beyond just his presence, his role in Zootopia is also its own kind of fun callback, as his character’s name (and species) is a reference to his Disney past. As Byron Howard explained,

We released the cast the other day and the Duke Weaselton thing is the biggest thing. Of all the stuff they could talk about, people are just like, ‘Duke Weaselton, Duke Weaselton! It’s like the Duke of Weselton! I found the first Easter egg in Zootopia!’

At this point, we don’t really know much about Alan Tudyk’s role in Zootopia, let alone who he will be playing in Moana, but one thing is for sure: we will be keyed in and listening for his voice.

Zootopia arrives in theaters on March 4, 2016.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.