TRANSFORMERS ONE Producer On Replacing Peter Cullen With Chris Hemsworth: "We Couldn't Use Peter..."

TRANSFORMERS ONE Producer On Replacing Peter Cullen With Chris Hemsworth: "We Couldn't Use Peter..."

Transformers One producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura has addressed the decision to replace longtime Optimus Prime voice actor Peter Cullen with Thor star Chris Hemsworth, explaining why the chance was needed.

By JoshWilding - Jun 15, 2024 02:06 PM EST
Filed Under: Transformers

There's a lot of very positive buzz surrounding Transformers One among those lucky enough to have watched it. For some, that came as a surprise after a trailer which split opinions thanks to its retro animation style.

Another divisive element of the upcoming movie is its voice cast. While Paramount Pictures has enlisted an epic roster of A-List stars, ditching longtime Optimus Prime voice actor Peter Cullen - Thor and Avengers: Endgame star Chris Hemsworth takes over the role - has upset many fans.

Transformers franchise producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura spoke with Variety (via at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, and he acknowledged the backlash while explaining the change. 

"That was really important because, from a fan point of view, the original voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, is revered," he said of recasting the role. "To have somebody else voice Optimus Prime was like, 'Whoa, we better get this right.'"

"We couldn’t use Peter because the audience needs to feel the character’s youth. That’s why we pursued Chris. I was surprised, too, but not how funny Chris was. I’ve seen him in things where he was funny. But he has a very strong sense of story. That’s not true with every movie star."

Director Josh Cooley also chimed in to say, "Yeah, we have an incredible cast. I can’t believe how great it was. Everybody was fantastic. I would walk them through the scene, and they’d suggest a lot of stuff. Keegan[-Michael Key], of course, rifted like crazy on things."

"But Chris Hemsworth is also extremely funny. I was not prepared for how funny he is," the filmmaker continued. "A lot of his lines in this film are riffs off of what we had written, but he just brought his charisma and his comedy to it. He totally got it."

Hemsworth as Prime is going to take some getting used to and it would be unfair to write him off before seeing the movie. He's no doubt aware that he has big shoes to fill and with this being such a different Transformers story, the change may ultimately make sense for the hero.

Transformers One is the untold origin story of Optimus Prime and Megatron, better known as sworn enemies, but once were friends bonded like brothers who changed the fate of Cybertron forever.

The first-ever fully CG-animated features a star-studded voice cast, including Chris Hemsworth, Brian Tyree Henry, Scarlett Johansson, Keegan-Michael Key, Steve Buscemi, with Laurence Fishburne, and Jon Hamm.

The movie is directed by Josh Cooley and produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto & Don Murphy, Michael Bay, Mark Vahradian, and Aaron Dem, with executive producers Steven Spielberg, Zev Foreman, Olivier Dumont, Brian Oliver, B.J. Farmer, and Matt Quigg.

Transformers One arrives in theaters on September 20. 

TRANSFORMERS ONE First Clip Sees Optimus Prime Lose His Head While Attempting To Transform

TRANSFORMERS ONE First Clip Sees Optimus Prime Lose His Head While Attempting To Transform

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marvel72 - 6/15/2024, 2:07 PM
The trailer made this movie look so bad.
BritishMonkey - 6/15/2024, 5:34 PM
@marvel72 - There's something shitty going on in marketing lately anyway. It's really selling it the wrong way.
bobevanz - 6/15/2024, 2:08 PM
This movie is definitely the most kid friendly, like 5 year Olds kind of movie. I just don't get why they decide to make this the origin story or prequel... whatever someone will call me a hater lol
MG0019 - 6/15/2024, 2:36 PM
@bobevanz - Right.

Although, my own 6yr old wasn’t interested at all in the trailer. He loves going to the movies though, and I’m sure once we’re in the theater, it’ll be made for him.

It does suck however. We finally get an all Transformers story, no ridiculous human story to get in the way; and this is what they come up with? The beginning of Bumblebee is exactly what the long time fans want. I understand they also want new fans; but to be honest, the new fans like my son respond to the earnest Transformers projects.

He likes the original movie, Bumblebee, and one of the Bay films. He’s not into the first or third for sure, and that god awful dragon one. He really liked the latest Rise Of The Beats (or whatever the title is). Mirage really worked for him.

But seeing this newer younger Optimus doesn’t work for him yet. He like Optimus as Optimus Prime should be. Even a six year old thinks it’s a little too silly.
Origame - 6/15/2024, 2:12 PM
Suuuure. I'm sure it had nothing to do with Chris Hemsworth being more marketable.
LSHF - 6/15/2024, 2:12 PM
"...explaining why the chance was needed."

tylerzero - 6/15/2024, 2:16 PM
As an 80s kid and long-time Transformers fan, I hate the character designs.

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JFerguson - 6/15/2024, 2:17 PM
Clickbait title
dracula - 6/15/2024, 2:18 PM
Could have gone with David Kaye
harryba11zack - 6/15/2024, 2:45 PM
phuck that film
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WelcomeBackFrank - 6/15/2024, 3:06 PM
They could’ve used AI to make him sound younger. 💁🏼‍♂️🤷‍♂️

I still don’t understand why Brian Tyree Henry is voicing Megatron when he sounds nothing like Frank Welker or Hugo Weaving.
tb86 - 6/15/2024, 3:11 PM
Despite the early positive response I’m not 100% sold. The same thing happened with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. It was fine, better than the Bay Produced films, but it wasn’t as great as those early showings said it was. At best this film will be OK like some of the recent Transformers movies, but not exactly Spider-Verse or Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
dagenspear - 6/15/2024, 3:21 PM
If you look at the character of Optimus Prime and the thing your talking about most is how funny it is, I think you may have hit one of the least connected aspects of that character.
theFUZZ008 - 6/15/2024, 3:30 PM
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Toonstrack - 6/15/2024, 3:55 PM
This movie looks awesome. Can't wait
WhateverItTakes - 6/15/2024, 4:00 PM
BTHs voice does not suit this project
SuperCat - 6/15/2024, 4:02 PM
Looks like crap.

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TheVisionary25 - 6/15/2024, 4:21 PM
I think Hemsworth is a good choice for a young Optimus or “Orion Pax” and I do like how he’s changed the timbre of his voice to an extent that at one point I thought he sounded exactly like Peter Cullen in the trailer.

Honestly , the entire cast seems like they are doing well in their roles and I’m looking forward to it since it seems good to me…

Yes , I got the art style or the more comedic tone initially might throw some off as it did me but I have grown to like the former and it seems like we’ll get the more dark or serious moments throughout the story to balance out the lightheartedness.
CoHost - 6/15/2024, 5:12 PM
That's as stupid as not having Kevin Conroy voice Batman.

Maybe don't do an origin story?
TiberiousOmega - 6/15/2024, 6:22 PM
The real answer is they needed an A list actor as the lead to help sell this movie.
sully - 6/15/2024, 6:31 PM
Well is Chris playing Orion Pax or Prime? Because it makes sense to have a different voice to go with the character before he becomes Optimus Prime and his voice changes with the new name. I thought this was just widely assumed to be the case.
LeonNova - 6/15/2024, 7:01 PM
Based on the trailer, the movie looks like something no one over the age of 10 will enjoy.
AlexGSpeaks - 6/15/2024, 10:53 PM
Optimus with a mouth will always bother me. It has never, ever, looked right.
StSteven - 6/15/2024, 11:39 PM
So, my take (for anyone who cares) is that as a long-time TF fan, I'm pretty optimistic about this movie. The fact that it is getting such good buzz is definitely encouraging. Obviously this is the first animated TF movie since the '86 one (which in my opinion is still a high water mark for TF, and I'm not the only one (looking at you @marvel72)). I just think that everyone needs to set their expectations accordingly. Yes, this movie is clearly designed to appeal to the same audience as the Super Mario Bros.. TMNT, etc.. That much is obvious by the towline reveals so far (if you haven't seen them they're mostly aimed at kids with simpler conversions and gimmicks).

BUT, clearly Hasbro thinks that there's an adult audience for this film, as evidenced by the versions of the movie toys that are coming in their "Studio Series" line (which is a line definitely aimed at the adult collectors). Plus, from what we've heard so far, while there is definitely going to be a good amount of humor in the movie, my guess is that it starts off light in the beginning and gets steadily darker as the movie progresses. I mean, how can it not when you have the two main characters who start off as friends and and up as enemies by the end.

As far as the casting of Hemsworth as Pax/young /Prime, it makes total sense to me. Cullen, while the epitome of OP, has always portrayed Prime as a more seasoned war veteran, almost stoic at times (which *fun fact* he actually modeled after his older brother who was a Marine). In the comics and other media they have often gone through OP's and Meg's origin stories (take a look at the IDW comics series if you want a really good exploration of that), and they even did it in the G1 cartoon (Season 2 episode called "War Dawn" for those interested), in which there was a flashback and we see OP as Pax and voiced by a different actor than Cullen. So they did it almost 40 years ago folks, get over it.

It would make sense to me that OP's voice would age with time just like the rest of us. I wouldn't be surprised if Hemsworth is the voice of Prime for this movie and possibly the next 2 (this is a planned trilogy), but by the end Cullen takes over. So I for one am going to sit tight and enjoy this movie for what it's worth. 'Til all are one! 😊
Floke - 6/16/2024, 2:25 AM
Robots age and grow? So did he at one time go through puberty?
WarMonkey - 6/16/2024, 7:07 AM
@Floke - Yes, in a sense. Once he got the Matrix of Leadership he got an upgrade and went from Orion Pax to Optimus Prime. Same happened with Hot Rod becoming Rodimus Prime.
WarMonkey - 6/16/2024, 7:15 AM
As a child of the 80s and a huge Transformer fan I can say this would have never appealed to me back then. I was attracted to Optimus cause he was a bad-ass hero and had courage, intelligence, morals, and was a great leader, one to look up to and be inspired by. I would have never watched a Transformer show that was a comedy or focused on jokes.

We had 86 movie where we watched a ton of our favorite characters get blasted into space dust or sucked into Unicron. Now they want to revive this franchise with comedy?! BTW do 6 years old today care or even know about the voice actors?
tasman71 - 6/16/2024, 12:04 PM

The origin of Optimus Prime and Megatron hasn't been told???

Okay, I'll just rewatch S2 E43 War Dawn again.

Then, I'll rewatch Chris McFeely's well researched work here https://m.<> title='User YouTube Embed' width='640' height='360' src='//' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen='1'> again.

Then, I'll give this a watch when it hits streaming as my local theaters aren't wheelchair friendly.

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