See that man in the photo above? If you do not recognize his face, you should at least be able to recognize his voice, especially if you love Pixar. The man in question, John Ratzenberger, has voiced 15 characters in all 22 of the animation company's films, including its latest release, Onward.
After playing scene-stealing mailman Cliff on the hit sitcom Cheers for 11 seasons, John Ratzenberger got a job voicing a sentient piggy bank in Pixar's very first movie, Toy Story, in 1995, before being asked to voice a character in the next film, and the next, and the next. Soon, the actor would gain a reputation as the company's "good luck charm," earning a role in one of their movies, no matter how big or small.
If you are just now starting to realize that that voice you keep hearing in Pixar is this man and you wish to revisit the films to figure out where he pops up, look no future. The following list is a compilation of every Pixar character voiced by John Ratzenberger...
Construction Worker Fenwick (Onward)
When I saw Onward, Pixar’s most recent release set an a modern-day, urban fantasy world, one of my first feelings of anticipation was all about John Ratzenberger's appearance, but once the film was over, I had to scan the credits to figure out which character was his. I probably should have realized that he was one of the construction workers, considering this marks the third that the actor has played one in a Pixar movie.
In his brief appearance in Onward as the voice of Fenwick, John Ratzenberger struggles to keep Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) away from a condemned fountain which the elvish fantasy enthusiast is convinced holds a few enchanted secrets. Like many of Ratzenberger’s characters, this construction worker is in for quite a surprise.
Hamm (Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 4)
The beginning of John Ratzenberger’s collaboration with Pixar begins with the company’s first ever feature-length film, Toy Story. Ratzenberger provides the voice of Hamm, a plastic piggy bank who resides in Andy’s room with fellow playthings Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) to name a few.
John Ratzenberger would reprise the wisecracking character in three more feature-length sequels, most recently in 2019’s Toy Story 4, as well some made-for-TV half-hour specials. Technically, Ratzenberger has a dual role in the franchise as Hamm’s villainous alter ego, Evil Dr. Porkchop.
Underminer (The Incredibles, Incredibles 2)
Speaking of villainy, John Ratzenberger had a decidedly small role in writer and director Brad Bird's Oscar-winning 2004 superhero movie The Incredibles. However, it was big enough to get a video game named after him.
As the Underminer, a mole-like humanoid with mechanical hands who terrorizes the city with his giant drill, John Ratzenberger gets to close out The Incredibles and open its 2018 sequel, which picks up right where the 2004 original left off, with an epic battle against the titular family of costumed vigilantes. Unfortunately, the Incredibles fail to catch him, so perhaps this will not be the last we see of his “war on peace and happiness.”
Juan Ortodoncia (Coco)
Clearly, John Ratzenberger has had his fair share of brief roles in Pixar movies, but none have been smaller than his part in the 2017 tearjerker, Coco. For further context, he only has one word of dialogue: “Gracias.”
This expression of thanks, in Spanish nonetheless, comes after John Ratzenberger’s character, a brace-faced skeleton named Juan Ortodoncia, manages to cross over the bridge into the Land of the Living on Dia de los Muertos because his photo happens to be on his dentist’s ofrenda. Cleverly enough, Juan’s last name translates in English to “orthodontics.”
Mack (Cars, Cars 2, Cars 3)
John Ratzenberger’s second most frequently recurring Pixar character is Mack, from the Cars franchise. The 1980s-era Super-Liner semi appears in all three films taking place in a world overrun with sentient motor vehicles as the truck responsible for transporter race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) to his races. In fact, he has, arguably, the most important role in the film as his failure to stay awake on the road results in McQueen getting lost in Radiator Springs.
Mack is also one of John Ratzenberger’s most meta characters, serving up the funniest Easter Egg in the film. During the closing credits, as Mack is watching the Cars equivalent of various Pixar movies, he notices that the same voice actor is being used repeatedly in every film, prompting him to wonder out loud, “What kind of cut-rate production is this?”
Bill (Finding Dory)
For his second dive into Pixar’s franchise set in the Great Barrier Reef, instead of reprising his role from Finding Nemo (more on that later), John Ratzenberger took on a new kind of undersea species: a crustacean. In Finding Dory, he plays Bill, a hermit crab seen snipping grass with his bare claws right before Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) slips through a pipe that takes her to her aquarium home.
Finding Dory viewers might not have been able to spot John Ratzenberger in the role initially. His signature, unmistakable voice is hidden by some high-pitched re-tuning. It might have been the right move, given that his larger than life voice might not have the perfect fit for such a small animal.
Earl (The Good Dinosaur)
The Underminer is not the only villain that John Ratzenberger has voiced for Pixar. However, that mole man might not be the most threatening when compared to this raspy, hick-accented prehistoric antagonist.
In 2015’s The Good Dinosaur, John Ratzenberger plays Earl, a member of Bubbha’s (David Boat) gang of velociraptors who have it out for friendly Apatosaurus Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) and his human companion, Spot (Jack Bright). His one line of dialogue may be his cruelest quote in a Pixar film, as he angrily threatens to kill Arlo right as he is about to pounce. Fortunately, he and the other raptors get their tails handed to them by T-Rex’s.
Fritz (Inside Out)
Remember when I said that John Ratzenberger has played three construction workers for Pixar? Well, you might not have considered his Inside Out role, Fritz, as one considering he is a jellybean-looking, non-human character that lives within the mind of a young girl, but I think that his hard hat, utility belt, and mustache are firm evidence that it counts.
Fritz shows up at the end of the highly acclaimed 2015 hit, which follows the personified inner emotions of 12-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) struggling to help her adjust to a new life in San Francisco. The “Mind Worker” shows up to Headquarters to install an upgraded control console, which includes a button labeled “PUBERTY.” This means that Riley is in for a fun next couple of years.
Yeti (Monsters Inc., Monsters University)
It only made sense for Pixar to give the larger-than-life voice of John Ratzenberger to a larger-than-life character after previously casting him as a flea at one point (more on that later). In 2003, the actor was cast as Yeti, also known as The Abominable Snowman (a name he actually abhors), in Monsters Inc.
John Ratzenberger’s role comes into play when Waternoose (James Coburn) banishes James “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) to the Himalayas, where they meet Yeti, who treats them to snow cones in his cave. We caught a glimpse at Yeti’s employment with Monsters Inc. at the end of the prequel, Monsters University, when he introduces Sulley and Mike to their new jobs as mail sorters. You can hear him hint at how he will eventually get himself banished in in his advisement to the duo to never peek at the mail.
Pixar loves to bring John Ratzenberger back over and over just to hear his charming voice spoken through a new character. However, sometimes they love to challenge him with a character that requires him to alter his voice a bit. It is difficult to recognize his character in Brave, a retelling of the Celtic folktale “The Bear and the Bow,” due to his Scottish accent.
John Ratzenberger provides the voice of Gordon, one of the spear-carrying guards who stand outside the castle at which aspiring heroine Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) resides. Gordon is also a man of action, despite proving unsuccessful in both assisting King Fergus (Billy Connolly) in killing a bear he is unaware is really Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and attacking demon bear Mor’du.
Construction Foreman Tom (Up)
And now we come to the final construction worker character on our list, and the first that John Ratzenberger has voiced for Pixar. He is also one of the few characters the actor has voiced that provides exposition for a film.
In Up, considered one of Pixar’s finest achievements, Tom (John Ratzenberger) is the foreman of a construction site surrounding the home of elderly widow Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), who refuses to leave his house despite multiple monetary offers from Tom’s boss. This, of course, is what prompts Carl to rig his house with enough helium balloons to fly away to and sought after Paradise Falls.
WALL-E, about a lonely robot tasked with cleaning up a desolate Earth who follows his mechanical love interest onto a spaceship where the remaining humans live a lazy, completely automated lifestyle, is one of Pixar’s most challenging, high-concept, satirical science fiction masterpieces. However, for what must have been his least challenging, lowbrow, and meta role yet, the animation company cast John Ratzenberger as a man named John.
It is actually through WALL-E’s (Ben Burtt) indirect, accidental assistance that John is able to break free of the Axiom’s distractions, fall in love with Mary (Kathy Najimy), and assist WALL-E, EVE (Elissa Knight), and the Captain (Jeff Garlin) in defying the ship’s computer (Sigourney Weaver) and returning humanity to Earth for the first time in centuries. John’s story is a hero’s journey hidden with the heroic journey of the titular robotic character that could have made for an entertaining film on its own.
In Ratatouille, Brad Bird’s follow-up to The Incredibles named after a French dish that also serves a rodent-like pun, John Ratzenberger plays Mustafa, one of the top waiters at Parisian restaurant Gusteau’s, In yet another example of Pixar trying to challenge their good luck charm, they had him play the character with a French accent.
After it is revealed that Linguini Alfredo (Lou Romano) is only posing as a chef and that a rat, Remy (Patton Oswalt), is the true food expert, Mustafa believes Linguini has gone mad and promptly leaves Gusteau’s with the rest of the staff following suit. There is no telling where he is now, but I imagine he must have been kicking himself after food critic Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole) ended up swooning over how the rodent prepared the titular dish.
Fish School (Finding Nemo)
Usually John Ratzenberger plays just one character per Pixar film. However, for Finding Nemo, starring Albert Brooks as a clownfish in the Australian Reef searching for his son (Alexander Gould) with the help of his new friend (Ellen DeGeneres), he played an entire school of characters, hence the name.
When Marlin (Brooks) and Dory (DeGeneres) need help with directions, they enlist the assistance of a school of moonfish passing by, who use their collective ability to form various shapes as visual aids in their descriptions of how to get to Sydney. It is one of John Ratzenberger's most dazzling voice roles and certainly a memorably funny moment from Finding Nemo, the first Pixar film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
P.T. Flea (A Bug’s Life)
John Ratzenberger returned for his sophomore Pixar film role in A Bug's Life. Similarly, the 1998 hit about a colony ants struggling to defy their evil grasshopper overlords, is the animation company's sophomore film.
John Ratzenberger lends his large, booming voice to the small speck of a creature, P.T. Flea, the selfish, greedy owner of a traveling bug circus who has more in common with circus pioneer P.T. Barnum than Hugh Jackman's portrayal in The Greatest Showman. After a show goes wrong, he fires his troupe, who then unwittingly take Flick's (Dave Foley) offer to help defend the colony from Hopper (Kevin Spacey).
In addition to clever humor and climactic tearjerkers, I always look forward to hearing who John Ratzenberger will be in the next Pixar movie. Check back for more updates on the next role for Pixar's good luck charm and the animation company's forthcoming releases here on CinemaBlend.
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 just about any article related to Batman.
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