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In 2002, Dreamworks Pictures released Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, the story of one horse’s journey to find his own freedom which also features the voice of Matt Damon as the titular animal through narration. Nearly two decades later, Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal, Oscar winner Julianne Moore, and Emmy winner Andre Braugher, among others, have joined the Spirit Untamed cast to lend their voices to the hoofed hero’s return to the big screen. - There are a few other actors and actresses whom you will likely recognize from Spirit Untamed, which is out on Friday, June 4, 2021, and is actually a feature-length adaptation of a computer animated Netflix series which premiered in 2017 and was spun-off from the original movie. The following is an in-depth look at who from the cast is voicing which characters and where else you may know them from, starting with the young lead role.
Isabela Merced (Lucky Prescott)
Before voicing the lead (human) character of Spirit Untamed - an animated feature-length spin-off of a popular animated children’s series - Isabela Merced played the lead character of Dora and the Lost City of Gold - a live-action, feature-length spin-off of a popular animated children’s series released in 2019. However, that was not the 20-year-old Latinx actress’ first live-action animated TV show adaptation (2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight) nor her first action-adventure flick (2018’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado) or even her first foray into the Dora the Explorer franchise (she voiced Kate in Dora and Friends: Into the City for 12 episodes).
The Instant Family star, who broke out on the short-lived 2014 sitcom Growing Up Fisher opposite J.K. Simmons, is also as a pop music singer and will next appear in the Netflix original thriller Sweet Girl as Jason Momoa’s daughter.
Jake Gyllenhaal (Jim Prescott)
Playing Lucky Prescott’s protective father, Jim, is Jake Gyllenhaal, who also started out at a young age - making his debut in 1991’s City Slickers as Billy Crystal’s son. Eventually, he would be leading inventive fantasy dramas like Donnie Darko in 2001, boundary pushing romances like Brokeback Mountain (which earned him an Oscar nomination), and thrillers like David Fincher’s true crime masterpiece Zodiac from 2007.
The 40-year-old actor has made several returns to each of those genres, among others, over the years such as with the 2018 western The Sisters Brothers, his transformative performance in 2014’s Nightcrawler, or playing Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019. Spirit Untamed marks the first vocal performance in a feature-length film for Gyllenhaal, who is actually reuniting with another member of the animated film’s cast for the upcoming Michael Bay movie Ambulance, which is in post-production.
Eiza Gonzalez (Milagro Navarro)
Starring in Ambulance with Jake Gyllenhaal is Eiza Gonzalez, who voices his late wife, Milagro Navarro, in Spirit Untamed. The casting is a sort of a reverse to her previous reinvention of a role that was made for the big screen on the small screen as Santánico Pandemonium (originally played by Salma Hayek) on From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series in 2014.
American audiences started to really pay notice to the Mexican-born actress and singer, who broke out as the lead of the Cinderella-inspired telenovela Lola: Érase una vez, after appearing as Darling in Baby Driver in 2017. This would lead to roles in more blockbusters like Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, comic book movies Alita: Battle Angel and Bloodshot, the Golden Globe-nominated dark comedy I Care A Lot in 2020, and earth-rumbling blockbuster Godzilla vs. Kong the following year.
Julianne Moore (Aunt Cora)
Starring in Spirit Untamed as Lucky’s aunt, Cora, is Julianne Moore, who would win a Best Actress Oscar in 2015 for Still Alice after doing everything from blockbusters like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, dark comedies like The Big Lebowski, or ensemble dramas like Magnolia from writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson. Said filmmaker's 1998 masterpiece Boogie Nights also earned her her first Oscar nod.
Beyond the 1990s, Julianne Moore gave two Oscar-nominated performances in 2002 in Far From Heaven and The Hours (both period pieces with LGBTQ+ themes), returned to her original '80s role on As the World Turns in 2010, joined another instant classic ensemble dramedy with 2011 Crazy Stupid Love, and recently played one of several women portraying feminist icon Gloria Steinem in The Glorias. Moore will show up next in the Apple TV+’s Stephen King-inspired miniseries Lisey’s Story and the adaptation of Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen, to name a few.
Marsai Martin (Pru Granger)
On her journey to guide Spirit to freedom, Lucky is accompanied by two good friends - one of them is a girl named Pru Granger, voiced by Marsai Martin. At just 16 years old, the young actres has already earned an impressive repertoire since breaking out on the Black-ish cast as Diane Johnson, which has earned her many NAACP Image Awards.
Her most notable roles thus far include playing an American Girl Doll in the uplifting Amazon Prime original special An American Girl Story - Melody 1963: Love Has to Win and a younger Regina Hall in Little - a gender and age-swapped remake of the Tom Hanks classic Big. Spirit Untamed is far form Martin’s first voice acting performance, having played Aggro on Netflix’s Dragons: Rescue Riders and appeared in two episodes of Disney’s Elena of Avalor as Prince Caterina, and it will not be her last as August’s Paw Patrol: The Movie is her next big release.
McKenna Grace (Abigail Stone)
Playing Lucky’s other good friend, Abigail Stone, is fellow Elena of Avalor vet McKenna Grace, who also has one of the most impressive child acting careers in Hollywood right now. At only about 15 years old, she has earned more than 50 credits to her name thus far, including Gifted with Chris Evans or the Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon in the recurring role of the title character’s prodigious rival.
Following a two-year run on The Young and the Restless, McKenna Grace would also become later known for playing younger versions of her adult co-stars, such as Margot Robbie in I, Tonya, Kiernan Shipka on Netflix’s Chilling Adventure of Sabrina, and Brie Larson in Captain Marvel, to name a few. After appearing in 2017’s Amityville: The Awakening and Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, the Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 star is on her way to Scream Queen status, which she will continue to earn with James Wan’s Malignant and Ghostbusters: Afterlife in 2021.
Andre Braugher (Al Granger)
Playing Pru Granger’s father, Al Granger, is Andre Braugher. The veteran actor has also lent his distinct voice to animated roles in the past such as the tyrannical DC villain Darkseid in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse in 2010, the half-man, half-crustacean vigilante Lobster Man in the irreverent comic book adaptation Axe Cop, and Woodchuck Coodchuck-Berkowitz on Netflix’s Bojack Horseman for several episodes.
You would also recognize his face face from movies, such as his debut in 1989’s Glory, the sci-fi crime thriller/father-son story that is 1999’s Frequency, the 2007 superhero movie sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, or the polarizing Stephen King adaptation The Mist that same year. Braugher has also earned two Emmy Awards, the first of which was for the hit procedural Homicide: Life on the Street, and several other nominations, four of which have been for his tonally different return to playing a cop on TV as Captain Raymond Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine since 2013.
Walton Goggins (Hendricks)
Another prolific veteran of superhero movies, period pieces, and TV crime thrillers and comedies alike is Walton Goggins, who has been preparing to voice a role like Hendricks in Spirit Untamed for much of his career. He has been frequently been cast in western movies like Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight and was a favorite on the Justified cast as Boyd Crowder.
Before becoming one of the busiest actors of his generation (he has been juggling a film career with leading the cancelled CBS sitcom The Unicorn and now voicing a role on the superhero series Invincible cast), he won an Oscar for producing the 2001 short The Accountant, played Detective Shane Vendrell on The Shield, and later appeared in the Sons of Anarchy cast as transgender sex worker Venus Van Dam. I could go on for much much longer about the Emmy nominee, who has also played villains in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp and Tomb Raider and the 2020 holiday action comedy Fatman, but I only have so much room.
It is not every day that an animated film boasts a voice cast this exciting, including multiple Oscar winners, Emmy darlings, and young, talented up-and-comers. Hopefully, the journey of Spirit Untamed proves to be just as exciting and also just as successful as its predecessors from the big screen, namely Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and the small screen, the Netflix original Spirit Riding Free to be exact, as well.
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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