If you’ve noticed an uptick in the number of inspirational Winnie-the-Pooh memes lately, there’s a very good reason. There’s a new Winnie-the-Pooh movie in theaters right now, which is just the kind of whimsy and inspiration most of us could use a lot more of. You’ll see at least two very recognizable human faces, and via the glory of movie magic enjoy all those furry friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. They’re going to sound familiar too, led by the man who has been the voice Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger for decades.
Jim Cummings is a prolific and accomplished voice actor — so far, just in 2018, he’s worked on 20 projects, according to his IMDb page. Just one of those is the live-action film Christopher Robin, which stars Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell alongside Cummings. According to Cinemablend, Cummings has been the sonic heart of the Pooh franchise since nearly the start of his career.
His IMDb page shows his first voice credit in 1985, as Lionel the Lion in the TV series Dumbo’s Circus. Just three years later, in 1988, he had his first turn as Pooh in the TV series The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which ran on ABC until 1991, according to IMDb. In 1990, he added the voice of Tigger to his repertoire; consider the vocal mastery it would take to pull off a scene like this:
Christopher Robin tells a familiar story, and one that should resonate with adults and children alike. Robin has grown up and, now in mid-life, lost all sense of imagination, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Pooh and his friends come alongside Robin to help him find his way when he’s lost among work and family troubles.
Cummings won’t be the only familiar voice in Christopher Robin, though he the only Pooh veteran on the cast. Brad Garrett voices Eeyore, according to Screenrant, and British comedian and actor Nick Mohammed is Piglet. Additionally, according to Screenrant, Peter Capaldi is Rabbit, Sophie Okonedo is Kanga and Sara Sheen is Roo. Toby Jones completes the lineup as Owl.
CinemaBlend reported that Cummings wasn’t actually cast as Tigger when the movie started filming. Actor Chris O’Dowd began in the role, but was replaced by Cummings when producers decided the voice wasn’t quite right, according to CinemaBlend, Cummings has another theory for why he was given the role. Since this film is live-action the usually-animated characters have the appearance of stuffed animals. That means more muted color palettes and a different size perspective than we’re used to in the cartoons. According to CinemaBlend, Cummings believes that changing both Tigger’s voice and appearance was just too much change at once.
As Cummings told CinemaBlend:
I think what happened was you just get used to a sound, a voice, an attitude. And in this case it was decades old, you know, they were used to me for forever. I think they just said, "Well, gosh, it's such a wonderful project... maybe we don't want to introduce such a radically new wrinkle, maybe, and maybe we just go back with something that everybody's going to glom onto, and something that they've heard."
The voices of Pooh and Tigger originated with Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell, respectively, and Cummings took over when the actors retired or passed away, according to Comicbook.com. The actor — who has also voiced such iconic characters as Darkwing Duck, Geppetto, and the Tasmanian Devil, according to his IMDb listings — spoke to the website about the biggest reward of his career. "I've called any number of kids in the hospital, in truly dire straits, and I think honestly that's one of the biggest rewards," he told Comicbook.com
It's a well-deserved reward for all the joy Cummings has brought to so many of us over the years. To hear those memorable and so familiar characters once again, look for Christopher Robin in theaters now.