While it is exciting to see actors who have never voiced a Pixar character pop up in a new film, it is especially a treat when they bring back a few veterans (i.e., A Bug’s Life’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Onward, for instance). Yet, as far as I can tell, it seems that the Soul cast (specifically the main players) are all newcomers to the acclaimed animation studio.
That being said, I do guarantee you will be able to recognize most of the voices, including that of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, when the latest Pixar release becomes available to stream from Disney+ on Christmas Day. In fact, Soul, which follows a prematurely deceased music teacher’s journey back into his earthly body, boasts a pretty top-notch ensemble of A-listers, for the most part. However, I cannot seem to find any information on John Ratzenberger’s character or any real confirmation that Pixar’s good luck charm is in the cast at all.
Of course, that may not be any reason to panic, as his cameo might just be kept under wraps to prevent any crucial spoilers (I hope). As for the actors who we know for sure are in the film, we break down 12 of the biggest names from the cast of Soul, who they are, and who their character is, starting with the “lively” central role.
Jamie Foxx (Joe Gardner)
While he has never played a man seeking a way back to the land of the living before (excluding his titular role in the upcoming Spawn reboot, that is), Jamie Foxx certainly has the experience to play the musically inclined central character of Soul, having played piano since childhood, led a Grammy-winning singing career, and earned an Oscar for portraying Ray Charles in the 2004 biopic, Ray. Joe Gardner is the first major voice acting role for Foxx (who will reportedly reprise Spider-Man villain Electro in an upcoming MCU sequel) since starring as Nico in Blue Sky’s Rio franchise.
Tina Fey (22)
Joining Joe on his quest to be reborn is the yet-to-be-born 22, played by Tina Fey, who voiced a burrito in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, foster mother to a magical fish in Ponyo, and a Lois Lane parody in Megamind before starring in Soul. The former Saturday Night Live star and 30 Rock creator also recently appeared in her friend (and Pixar vet) Amy Poehler’s directorial debut Wine Country in 2019, and the Ted Danson-led sitcom Mr. Mayor, which she created, will premiere on NBC in January.
Graham Norton (Moonwind)
Outside of his popular BBC talk show, as an actor, Graham Norton is best known (in the States, at least) for playing for himself in films such as the 2016 feature-length spin-off of Absolutely Fabulous, or the more recent Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on Netflix. The Irish comedian makes his voice acting debut in a major motion picture with Soul as Moonwind, a very enthusiastic sign twirler whom Joe ends up meeting later on in the afterlife.
Rachel House (Terry)
While Terry, a soul counter looking to make her quota by hunting down Joe Gardner in Soul, is the Pixar debut of actress Rachel House, it is her third voice acting role for Disney after playing Gramma Tala in Moana and Mama Binturong in The Lion Guard - a Lion King spin-off series on Disney Junior. You may also recognize the New Zealander as the Grandmaster’s personal guard, Topaz, in Thor: Ragnarok, which was her fourth collaboration with director Taika Waititi, so far.
Richard Ayoade (Counselor Jerry)
Speaking of Taika Waititi, if you struggle to remember where you heard Richard Ayoade’s voice before hearing him in Soul, it may have been as bug-eyed protocol droid “Zero” on The Mandalorian, an easily frightened tribal giant in Early Man, or Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi's servant Ice Cream Cone in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. For his first Pixar film, the English comedian, filmmaker, and TV presenter (best known as Maurice Moss on the hit BBC sitcom The IT Crowd) plays one of several counselors tasked with explaining the afterlife to Joe Gardner who, for some reason, are each named Jerry.
Alice Braga (Counselor Jerry)
Also billed as “Counselor Jerry” in Soul is Alice Braga, whose only other voice acting credit is as her Predators character in a motion comic prequel to the 2010 sci-fi action flick - a genre the actress is well-versed in. After making her film debut in City of God (set in her home country, Brazil), Braga became more well-known in the U.S. as an apocalypse survivor in I Am Legend, an indebted artificial organ recipient in Repo Men, and an impoverished mother in Elysium, but she will tackle the superhero genre a second time (following a role in The New Mutants) as a rebel soldier in The Suicide Squad in 2021.
Wes Studi (Counselor Jerry)
Also well-versed in sci-fi, action, and comic book movies is Wes Studi - the third actor to play “Counselor Jerry” in Soul who is also known for playing The Sphinx in underrated superhero satire Mystery Men, Casals in Heat, and countless roles that represent his Native American heritage, including Dances with Wolves, The Last of the Mohicans, Hostiles, and Avatar (which I would say counts, in a way). Previously, the 73-year-old actor also voiced a helicopter in Disney Animation’s Planes: Fire & Rescue - which, while not a Pixar production, was intended to be a spin-off from Cars.
Angela Bassett (Dorothea Williams)
Years after her Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It, Angela Bassett takes the stage again as saxophonist Dorothea Williams, leader of the jazz band Joe Gardner aspires to join right before his sudden “departure.” Before Soul, the most notable voice acting credits for the star of Black Panther, Boyz n the Hood, and American Horror Story were as Mildred in Disney’s Meet the Robinsons, and a recurring role on Netflix’s Bojack Horseman as the titular equestrian actor’s publicist turned lover.
Playing Curly, drummer for the Dorothea Williams Quartet, in Soul is Questlove, drummer for The Roots, whom you can see every weeknight in Jimmy Fallon’s house band on The Tonight Show. Since the musician, born Ahmir Khalib Thompson, typically plays himself in more dramatic work, such as in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping or the music industry drama series Empire, it is pretty cool to see Pixar give him an original role that still reflects his real-life expertise.
Esther Chae (Miho)
Much of Ester Chae’s previous voice acting work, such as in Netlifx’s Over the Moon or providing ADR on a few Marvel films, has gone uncredited. In fact, she has been left uncredited for many notable live action appearances, including 2004’s Collateral, and Sisters from 2015 - which each actually star her Soul co-stars Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, respectively. Hopefully, the Dorothea Williams Quartet’s bass player Miho is the first of more roles that audiences remember the 49-year-old Korean-American from by name.
Phylicia Rashad (Libba Gardner)
The name many audiences remember Phylicia Rashad by is Clair Huxtable - the lawyer and mother of five she played on The Cosby Show for eight seasons - but, lately, she has become known as the adoptive mother of Michael B. Jordan’s aspiring boxer in Creed and its sequel. In Soul, the Emmy-nominated actress is the voice of Joe Gardner’s mother, Libba.
Daveed Diggs (Paul)
Showing off his impeccable skill in rapping at unusually high speeds in two roles from the original cast of Hamilton earned Daveed Diggs a Tony, a Grammy, and household name status as one of the most exciting stars working today. Personally, I am hoping we get to see the star of TNT’s series adaptation of Snowpiercer and Ferdinand exhibit more of his unique talent in Soul, in which he plays Joe Gardner’s neighborhood nemesis, Paul.
What do you think? Do we have a good chance of seeing Daveed Diggs play another a rap master in Soul, or do you think he might debut another talent of his for this character? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the cast of Soul, as well as even more inside looks into who is voicing who in the most anticipated animated films, here on CinemaBlend.