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Peter Cullen
Peter Cullen Photo Op GalaxyCon Richmond 2020.jpg
Cullen at the 2020 GalaxyCon Richmond
Peter Claver Cullen

(1941-07-28) July 28, 1941 (age 82)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Education National Theatre School (BFA)
Occupation Voice actor
Years active 1962–present
Children 4
Relatives Molly Culver (daughter-in-law)

Peter Claver Cullen (born July 28, 1941) is a Canadian voice actor. He is notable for voicing Optimus Prime in the original 1980s Transformers animated series, later returning to the role in Transformers media in 2007, starting with the first live-action film. He has also voiced many other characters across a wide variety of popular media, including Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh franchise, Monterey Jack in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, the first voice of KARR in Knight Rider and the vocalizations of the title character in Predator.

Early life

Cullen was born on July 28, 1941, in Montreal, Quebec, to Henry and Muriel (née McCann) Cullen. He is of Irish descent. He has three siblings: Michaela, Sonny, and Larry. He is a member of the first graduating class of the National Theatre School of Canada, which he graduated in 1963. His brother, Larry Cullen, was a retired captain in the United States Marine Corps, and helped inspire the voice of Optimus Prime.



In 1968, he and Joan Stuart appeared as "Giles" and "Penelope" in L'Anglaise, a recurring segment about a French-Canadian man with an English-Canadian wife, on the CBC Radio comedy series, Funny You Should Say That.

Cullen played a French-Canadian astronaut character named Commander Bi Bi Latuque alongside Ted Zeigler for the 1969 children's show, The Buddies on CFCF-TV in Montreal. He honed his voice skills by working as a radio announcer, notably in his home town of Montreal on (then) MOR station CKGM doing the overnight and weekend swing shifts. From 1967 to 1969, he was the announcer for Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

From 1971 to 1974, he, Zeigler and Billy Van were series regulars on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. In 1974, Cullen was the announcer and a series regular (with Ted Zeigler and Billy Van) on The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show. He lent his voice to a character in the album "The Story of Halloween Horror" in 1977.

As Optimus Prime

Cullen recalls auditioning for the role of the robot character Optimus Prime at a casting house in Burbank, California, explaining that as he read Prime's character breakdown, he saw that it was "the opportunity of the year", and heeded his brother Larry's advice: "Peter, don't be a Hollywood hero, be a real hero. Real heroes don't yell and act tough; they're tough enough to be gentle, so control yourself." Cullen later learned from his agent, Steve Tisherman, that he not only won the part of Prime, but also, to his surprise, the role of Ironhide as well, which he saw as a "home run".

He has stated that Optimus is his favorite voice role, and that he based the voice of the Autobot leader on his older brother Larry, who served in Vietnam. "When he came home, I could see a change. He was quieter and he was a man and a superhero to me," says the actor. "I watched him and listened to him. I'd never had an opportunity to do a superhero, and when that came, [that voice] just came right out of me and I sounded like Optimus."

Peter Cullen Sept 2014 (cropped)
Cullen putting his handprints in wet concrete at the Optimus Prime Chinese Theatre Handprint Ceremony in 2014

He has also stated that he had no idea of Prime's popularity until the character's controversial death in the 1986 animated film, because the studio had never given him fan letters from children addressed to Optimus. The public backlash over Optimus's death surprised producers greatly. Children were leaving the theaters distraught because of the character's death. The writers temporarily revived the character for a single episode in Season 3 called "Dark Awakening". Initially, this was intended to be his final appearance, but after fan requests continued, "The Return of Optimus Prime", a two-part episode was produced. The original ending of "Dark Awakening" was altered in reruns to include a teaser about the return of the character, and indeed, Optimus returned once and for all to lead the Autobots for the final five episodes of the original American cartoon series.

Cullen reprised the role of Optimus Prime in the 2007 Transformers live-action film, the sequels Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon, Age of Extinction and The Last Knight, the spin-off Bumblebee and the recently released Rise of the Beasts and the video games based on the film series. Though he was only contractually obligated to voice Optimus up to The Last Knight, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura stated in 2021 that Cullen was welcome to voice the character for as long as he wanted.

Cullen again reprised his role as Optimus Prime in the video games Transformers: War for Cybertron, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and Transformers: Devastation, and in the recent television series Transformers: Rescue Bots, Transformers: Prime and Transformers: Robots in Disguise. His performance in the premiere season of Transformers: Prime earned him a nomination for a 2011 Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program category.

Other work

Peter Cullen 2011.2
Cullen in 2011

In the 1980s and 1990s, Cullen appeared on a number of television shows. He has played Coran, Stride the Tiger Fighter, and King Alfor in the Lion Voltron series, the transforming spaceship/robot Ramrod, the heroic Commander Eagle and the villainous Nemesis in the 1980s anime series Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, Commander James Hawkins in the Vehicle Voltron series, Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh franchise, Original First Voice of KARR in Knight Rider, Antor and Bomba, and Gunner, in Dino-Riders, Airborne, Zandar and Nemesis Enforcer in G.I. Joe, He played Mantor/Mantys in Coleco's 5 episode mini-series Sectaurs in 1986; Red Skull in the 1981 cartoon series of Spider-Man, Klaar and Zanzoar in Megas XLR and Mantus in The Pirates of Dark Water. He also had a voice part in the 1984 motion picture Gremlins (as a gremlin) and in the first season of the 2008 Knight Rider series, where he reprised his vocal role as KARR (from the original Knight Rider series). He also did voicework in The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible series, notably as Japheth, one of Noah's sons in the "Noah's Ark" episode, and the King of Nineveh in the "Jonah" episode. He was well known by some as the main villain Venger in the animated series of Dungeons & Dragons. He played the evil sorcerer Renwick in the lesser known series Little Wizards and played Cindarr in the short-lived series Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.

Among many other television series and films, he has also lent his basso voice to many film trailers and television commercials, including announcing for the Toonami and You Are Here blocks on the Cartoon Network. Cullen spent some of his early professional years in Montreal as a radio announcer/DJ on CKGM; and as a character in a then-popular local television kids show. He acted the role of a French-Canadian astronaut, along with writer and his partner on the show, Ted Ziegler. Both Ziegler and Cullen were in the supporting cast of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, as well as other network comedies of the era.

He voiced Nintendo's mascot Mario in the Donkey Kong segments on Saturday Supercade, making him the first person to ever provide a voice for the character in western media.

Cullen has done voicework on drum and bass DJ Dieselboy's 2004 album, The Dungeonmaster's Guide, and narration on the 2013 album Tetragrammaton by the Dutch extreme metal band The Monolith Deathcult. Tetragrammaton also featured Cullen on bass in "God's Among Insects." Additionally, he did voicework for the unreleased Blizzard Entertainment game Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, and provided narration for the Star Wars fan film series I.M.P.S.: The Relentless.

Cullen is a voice announcer on Police Story 4: First Strike in advertisements for New Line Cinema, lending his experience as an ex-cop for the Santa Monica division to the cast.

He has also done voice work for promotions of the 1999 film The Iron Giant. In 2023 he joined season 2 of Amazon Originals Invincible series.

Personal life

Cullen has four children: Clay, Angus, Claire, and Pilar, and three grandchildren. He is a good friend of his longtime Transformers co-star and fellow voice actor Frank Welker, in contrast to the rivalry of their respective characters.

Cullen is a devoted fan and supporter of NASA, citing the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969 as the start of his interest. As such, he sees the interaction between Optimus Prime and Buzz Aldrin in Dark of the Moon as one of his proudest moments.


At BotCon 2010, Hasbro named Cullen as one of the first four human inductees in the Transformers Hall of Fame for his role as the voice of Optimus Prime.



List of voice performances in feature films
Year Title Role Notes
1971 Tiki Tiki
1976 King Kong King Kong
1982 Heidi's Song Gruffle
1983 Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls Big Blue
1984 Gallavants Antonim
Voyage of the Rock Aliens 1359
Gremlins Special Vocal Effects
1985 Robotix Additional Voices
Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines Arthur Ravenscroft
Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer Various characters
1986 Voltron: Fleet of Doom
GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords Pincher, Tombstone, Stones
My Little Pony: The Movie Grundle, Ahgg
The Transformers: The Movie Optimus Prime, Ironhide
1987 G.I. Joe: The Movie Zandar, Nemesis Enforcer, Scientist
Predator The Predator
1988 Rockin' with Judy Jetson Gruff, Commander Comsat, Bouncer
Yogi and the Invasion of the Space Bears Ranger Roubideux
1989 Vytor: The Starfire Champion Myzor, Chief Eldor
1991 The Little Engine That Could Pete, The Cave
1994 The Story of Christmas Ox
1997 Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin Eeyore
1999 Seasons of Giving Archive sound
2000 The Tigger Movie
2001 The Book of Pooh: Stories from the Heart
Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse
2002 A Very Merry Pooh Year
Treasure Planet Captain Nathaniel Flint Uncredited
2003 Piglet's Big Movie Eeyore
2004 Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo
2005 Pooh's Heffalump Movie
Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie
2007 Transformers Optimus Prime
Super Sleuth Christmas Movie Eeyore
2009 Tigger and Pooh and a Musical Too
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2013 Transformers Prime Beast Hunters: Predacons Rising
2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction
2017 Transformers: The Last Knight Optimus Prime / Nemesis Prime
2018 Bumblebee Optimus Prime
2023 Transformers: Rise of the Beasts


List of voice performances in television shows
Year Title Role Notes
1967–68 The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour Announcer
1974 The Bobbie Gentry Show
1979 Mighty Man and Yukk Brandon Brewster / Mighty Man
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Additional Voices
1981 The Kwicky Koala Show Bristletooth
The Smurfs Additional Voices
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Dr. Bruce Banner / Hulk, Mysterio, Red Skull 2 episodes
1982 The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour Lucky
Spider-Man Red Skull, Stuntman, Jack Riven
Meatballs & Spaghetti Additional Voices
Pac-Man Sour Puss
The Little Rascals Officer Ed, Pete the Pup
Knight Rider K.A.R.R. 1st voice;
Episode: "Trust Doesn't Rust"
1983 Monchhichis Shreeker, Snitchitt, Gonker
The Puppy's Further Adventures Lucky
The Biskitts Dog Foot, Fang, Scratch
Saturday Supercade Mario
The Dukes Additional Voices
1983–85 Mister T Additional Voices
Dungeons & Dragons Venger
1984 Dragon's Lair Bertram
Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats Additional Voices
Snorks Additional Voices
1984–86 Rainbow Brite Murky Dismal
1984–85 Alvin and the Chipmunks Additional Voices
Lucky Luke English dub
1984–87 The Transformers Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Streetwise, Wingspan, Slugslinger, Nightstick
1984 Voltron: Defender of the Universe Coran, King Alfor, Narrator
1985 The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo Maldor the Malevolent
Challenge of the GoBots Spoiler, Tank, Pincher
The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians Felix Faust Episode: "Brainchild/The Case of the Stolen Super Powers"
1985–86 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Airborne, Ramar, Zandar
1985–87 The Jetsons Additional Voices
1986 MoonDreamers Igon, Various characters Episode: "Zodies on the Loose"
Rambo: The Force of Freedom Sergeant Havoc
Muppet Babies Sor-Elbow, Smoggy the Bear, Football Bear Episode: "Fozzie's Family Tree"
Ghostbusters Eddie Spenser Jr., Eddie Spenser Sr., Haunter, Floatzart
Pound Puppies Captain Slaughter 4 episodes
The New Adventures of Jonny Quest Patch Episode: "Peril of the Reptilian"
Foofur Baby the Rat, Vinnie the Cat
My Little Pony Captain Crabnasty Episode: "Fugitive Flowers"
1987–88 BraveStarr Dr. Whiston, Dr. Watson, Hack
DuckTales Admiral Grimitz, Bankjob Beagle, Mad Dog McGirk, Lessdred
1987 The Little Wizards Renwick, Various characters
The Real Ghostbusters Doctor Destructo, Police Officer Episode: "Captain Steel Saves the Day"
Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light Cindarr
1987–89 Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs Commander Eagle, Narrator, Nemesis
1988 Dino-Riders Gunner, Antor, Bomba Episode: "Toro Toro Torosaurus"
1988–89 The New Yogi Bear Show Ranger Roubideux
1988 The Wonderful World of Disney The Sorcerer Episode: "Mickey's 60th Birthday"
1988–91 The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Eeyore
1988–90 Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears Kerwin the Conqueror, Gritty
1988–89 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash, Mugger, Napoleon
1989 Rude Dog and the Dweebs Herman, Winston
1989–90 Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers Monterey Jack, additional voices
1990 TaleSpin Additional Voices Episode: "It Came from Beneath the Sea Duck"
1990–93 Tom & Jerry Kids Additional Voices
1990–91 Widget the World Watcher Bob the Poacher, Rooney Kangaroo, Gdunu
1991–93 The Pirates of Dark Water Mantus
1993 Bonkers Abominable Snowman, Mackey McSlime
1994 Hardball Fox Announcer Episode: "Lee's Bad, Bad Day"
1996 Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh Eeyore
1998–present The Magical World of Walt Disney
2001 House of Mouse
2001–2002 The Book of Pooh
2004–05 Megas XLR Zanzoar, Klaar
2005–06 IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix Narrator
2007–10 My Friends Tigger & Pooh Eeyore
2009 Knight Rider K.A.R.R. Episode: "Knight in King's Pawn"
Bizarre Dinosaurs Narrator
2010–13 Transformers: Prime Optimus Prime, Vehicon
2011–16 Transformers: Rescue Bots Optimus Prime
2014 2014 Kids' Choice Awards
2015–17 Transformers: Robots in Disguise
2017 Doc McStuffins Eeyore Episode: "Into the Hundred Acre Wood"
2017–2018 Transformers: Titans Return Optimus Prime
2018 The Toys That Made Us Himself
Optimus Prime
Transformers: Power of the Primes Optimus Prime
2019 Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Yōkai Councillor #1 3 episodes
2023 Invincible Thaedus

Video games

List of voice performances in video games

Year Title Voice role
2003 Piglet's Big Game Eeyore
2007 Transformers: The Game Optimus Prime
Transformers Autobots
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Autobots
2010 Transformers: War for Cybertron
Transformers: Cybertron Adventures
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2012 Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
2012 Transformers: Prime – The Game
2014 Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark
2015 Transformers: Devastation
2016 Transformers: Earth Wars
2019 Crystal Crisis Narrator
2023 Fortnite Optimus Prime

Theme park rides

List of voice performances in theme park rides
Year Title Voice role Notes
2003 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Eeyore
2011 Transformers: The Ride 3D Optimus Prime

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Film/TV Show Result
2011 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Transformers Prime Nominated

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Peter Cullen para niños

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