We had the opportunity to interview Jim Cummings at the Christopher Robin (now in theaters) Press Junket, who has been the voice of Winnie The Pooh since 1988 and later also became the voice of Tigger. He has been the voice of many different characters over the years as he is an amazing voice actor. When we spoke to him, he told us which characters other than Tigger and Pooh were his favorites.
He said he loved being the voice of Darkwing Duck from Darkwing Duck, Ray from Princess and the Frog, and Hondo from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
One thing I love about Jim Cummings is that he is full of energy. He can bounce between characters with is voice with major ease. One minute he will be saying, “It’s Very Hard, It’s tough to do.” In a Winnie The Pooh voice and go right into, “I have to conjure up about a sweet spot somewhere. And then I bounce.” In a Tigger voice. He described his profession as “Schizophrenic”.
Jim Cummings said that he has done many characters over the years and when it comes to Winnie The Pooh and Tigger, they were already established so he just had to nail those. He shared with us that he was always making voices as a child. Other characters he said he “would sculpt”. Then other voices he would work with the animators to get right.
But, the new ones like I don’t know, Dark Wing Duck maybe….. you work with the animators, with the producer, with the writers who sometimes know what they’re talking about. And, so, it, you know, it’s a sculpting process, it’s kind of like audio sculpting, it’s like a sculpture you can hear. Dark Wing for example wasn’t the biggest guy in the world but he wasn’t tiny, he wasn’t a mouse. You know, they wanted him to be fairly bodacious and boisterous but not over the top like you know, he wasn’t goofy.
that flaps in the night you bring it down and it wasn’t supposed to, you know, it wasn’t going to quack, per se.
Then he went back into his voice…
And we didn’t have to give him a lisp or anything weird, so you know, you just go, ‘oh, yeah, well, mm, okay, yeah, that’s good.’ And that’s kind of it, yeah.
He very lovingly spoke about playing Tigger and Pooh in Christopher Robin. He called it an “honor” and a “Privilege” to bring these characters to new generations. He brought it to my childhood and then again to my kids on the Disney Channel.
I’ve jokingly said, you know, ‘Winnie the Pooh generation is every three and a half years because brand new set of Pooh fans.’ You know, but, it’s joyous. And you know, one of the best things about my job is that when I you know, when I’ll do a voice for a little child or something and then they realize, ‘wow, doesn’t really look like Winnie the Pooh.’
In a way, it feels like to us that Jim Cummings is Winnie The Pooh, so when we asked him if he had a favorite Pooh Quote I wasn’t surprised that he listed so many different ones.
Probably. I, you know, there are so many. I you know, sometime, you know, I always say that there’s such a thing as Pooh logic. You say well, ‘what do you think Pooh–.’ Well, I think that I think. You know, and he, it’s just Pooh logic. It’s the various things you know, you’re stronger than you seem, you’re braver than you think and you know, smarter than you think, stronger than you feel and braver than you seem.
Jim Cummings also mentioned that he does ad lib a LOT. He said it works for some characters and doesn’t for others. He said that Tigger can say different things but for Pooh it doesn’t always work. He also lovingly said that his character Ray was completely off script.
Jim Cummings had so much to tell us during his interview. He talked about how he almost met the original voice of Pooh. It was in a restraunt and he didn’t have the nerve to go say hi. He thinks it’s such a cool thing that now he is the voice of Pooh. He also shared that if you have children that are interested in being a voice actor that they should always be making voices and trying to do other voices. And I’ll leave you with who his favorite Winnie The Pooh characters were as a child and how he would play around with the voices even then. And as you read this, picture him jumping between the voice characters….
It was Tigger. Tigger and Eeyore. Yeah, I, you know, I’d be sitting around we’d be playing Monopoly and it’s just one of those things that you’re doing as a kid and you never think you’ll probably–. Cause I was in the audience for the first three, you know, when they came out in the early sixties. But, he was, they were gone for like twenty-five years till the late eighties, so, there was no way. But, you know, I’d be sitting around, oh I believe I will buy Park Place. You know, playing, ‘okay, Winnie the Pooh, you can buy Park Place.’ You know, playing Monopoly or something like that.
I really enjoyed listing to Jim Cummings talk about his life and his job. He’s just such a cool guy with such creativity that comes through his animated personality.