The reveal of a new Pixar movie is always a celebratory affair, made more exciting by the announcement of its cast of voice actors. Such is the case for the studio’s upcoming film Onward, which teams up Spider-Man: Far From Home’s Tom Holland with his MCU co-star Chris Pratt.
Described as a suburban fantasy, Onward is set in a modern-day world much like our own, but inhabited by creatures of mythology instead of humans, including dog-like unicorns, and magic is merely a lost memory. Brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) are young elves who come across a scepter that resurrects only the lower half of their late father, putting them on a journey to complete his manifestation before he is gone again forever.
The casting of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as siblings is sure to stir anticipation among fans of Marvel and Pixar alike, but what else is there to know about their characters and that of their voice actor co-stars? Follow this guide on the cast of Onward to find out.
Chris Pratt (Barley Lightfoot)
Before he was one of Hollywood’s go-to blockbuster leading men, he made quite an impression in early 2014 with his debut voice acting performance in a feature-length animated film as Emmet Brickowski, the unlikely hero of The LEGO Movie. The equally adventurous Onward will mark Chris Pratt’s voice acting debut in a Pixar movie.
Chris Pratt plays Barley Lightfoot, an overzealous, heavy metal-loving elf who is still plenty young, but does not seem to realize that he is not getting any younger. In Onward, he and his younger brother Ian (Tom Holland) take his unicorn-mural bearing van on what he refers to as a “quest” to save complete their father’s (literally) half-baked resurrection.
Tom Holland (Ian Lightfoot)
At 24, Tom Holland is one of the most accomplished on-screen performers to rarely play their own age, his most iconic role to date being high school student Peter Parker in the MCU’s Spider-Man movies. He is once again honoring that tradition by lending his youthful voice to the role of teenage elf Ian Lightfoot in Onward.
Ian, the hero of Onward, is a meek, 16-year-old underachiever who is still a little apprehensive at the chance to join his older brother Barley on a dangerous quest that will allow him to reunite with the father he never knew. The Pixar movie role, also Tom Holland’s first collaboration with the animation company, also keeps up with another trend in the British actor’s career: young reluctant heroes forced to step up to the plate under desperate measures.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Laurel Lightfoot)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an icon of comedy, having received multiple Emmy wins and receiving the Mark Twain Prize for Comedy in 2018 for her work on Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, and HBO’s Veep, just to name a few. The revisionist fantasy epic Onward is the actress’ second collaboration with Pixar after voicing Princess Atta in 1998’s A Bug’s Life.
The Veep star plays Laurel Lightfoot, a widowed elf who reveals to her teenage boys Ian and Barley that their late father left them a magic scepter, which contains the secret to bringing him back to life, setting them off an adventure, much to the motherly Laurel’s chagrin. Onward sees Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Laurel embarking on a journey of her own to locate her sons and bring them back to safety.
Octavia Spencer (Manticore)
Following her voice acting role in the Robert Downey Jr.-led Dolittle as a duck named Dab-Dab, Octavia Spencer lends her voice to Pixar’s Onward. This time, the actress, who won an Academy Award in 2012 for The Help, plays a creature unlike any animal Earth can say it has ever seen.
In Onward, Barley Lightfoot decides to make a stop at a restaurant to enlist the help of a creature known as the Manticore (described in mythology as an unconquerable, winged beast with the body of a lion and the sting of a scorpion) whom he promises his brother, Ian, will start them on the right path of their journey. However, this Manticore, known as “Corey” and voiced by Octavia Spencer, turns out to be a clumsy waitress who accidentally leaves out a few key details of our elven heroes’ quest, putting them in worse danger than they anticipated.
Mel Rodriguez (Officer Colt Bronco)
While he may not boast the attention of a household name, Mel Rodriguez does claim a filmography lengthier than some of his famous peers. The 46-year-old actor has led a steady career since 1999, landing small roles in notable works of film and TV, such as playing a cop in David Fincher’s Panic Room, playing a cop in Dan Harmon’s cult hit sitcom Community, and playing a cop in the 2006 Oscar-winning comedy-drama Little Miss Sunshine.
Mel Rodriguez cements himself as the Reginald VelJohnson of his generation, and makes his Pixar movie debut, playing a cop in Onward. His character, a centaur named Officer Colt Bronco, is seen in a trailer threatening to cut Barley and Ian’s journey short and escort them home, which instead inspires a newfound sense of rebelliousness in Ian.
Lena Waithe (Officer Spector)
You may not recognize her name immediately, but you are surely familiar with at least one of Lena Waithe’s many projects. The multi-talented rising star has acquired an impressive resume recently as an Emmy-winning writer and star of the Netflix original comedy Master of None, a starring role as VR gamer Aech in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, and writing the intense 2019 drama Queen & Slim.
According to Onward’s IMDb page, Lena Waithe is credited as a character named Officer Spector, so we can infer her character is one of the cops alongside Officer Colt Bronco on Ian and Barley’s trail. Yet, there is not much else known, not even a hint to what sort of mythological creature she will be in any of the trailers, but landing a role in a Pixar film is undoubtedly a major turning point for the artist’s already remarkable career.
Ali Wong (Officer Gore)
Accomplished comedian Ali Wong has made audiences laugh with her Netflix original stand-up specials (one of which she was pregnant during the filming of), her Netflix original romantic comedy Always Be My Maybe alongside Randall Park, and as a writer for ABC’s hit sitcom Fresh Off the Boat. She has also lent her voice to several animated features, including The Angry Birds Movie and Ralph Breaks the Internet, but makes her Pixar debut with Onward.
Like her co-star Lena Waithe, the Onward IMDb page has Ali Wong credited as a police officer in the modern fantasy tale, but no other hint to her character exists at this time. Perhaps we should be thankful for the mysterious quality of her character because, assuming she will serve as some fun comic relief, I would rather her jokes remain unspoiled until the film is released.
John Ratzenberger (Unknown)
We're not surprised to see John Ratzenberger among the voice actors for this Pixar film. Often referred to as Pixar’s “good luck charm,” the former Cheers star is the only actor to appear in every feature-length production by the animation titans since first starring as Hamm in 1995’s Toy Story and Onward marks his 22nd consecutive voice acting role with them. He's even reprised the voice of Hamm for a few of the Forky Asks a Question shorts on Disney+.
There is no word on what his character in Onward will be, without even a hint of his signature voice to be heard in the trailer. This leads me to wonder if John Ratzenberger makes a brief, yet pivotal, appearance as a helpful side character, a la Yeti in Monsters Inc., or is his mysteriously blank credit a hint that he is the voice of Ian and Barley’s late father?
There is still much mystery surrounding Pixar’s latest forthcoming release, but I like it that way and hope it will make the anticipation of seeing MCU veterans Chris Pratt and Tom Holland reunite for a new kind of odyssey that much more worth it. Until its March 6, 2020, release, be sure to check back for more updates regarding Onward here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.