From day one, the casting process for Marvel’s “Eternals” has been an event of its own to behold. Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Bryan Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie — it still boggles the mind that Marvel has been able to introduce so many actors of that caliber all at once in a single super-squad extravaganza.
But, while the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest outing has enough outsized star power to go around, one of its sharpest casting decisions had zilch to do with that. For the voice-only role of Arishem the Judge, the Celestial who shepherds the Eternals and sends them on the mission that opens the film, director Chloé Zhao and casting directors Sarah Finn and Anna Tenney made the eminently commendable decision to hire an actual voice actor. And, while this actor may not be as much of a household name as his fellow castmates, he’s certainly a superstar in his own field. Here are a few places where you may have heard Arishem’s voice before.
Canadian voice actor David Kaye was born in Peterborough, Ontario. He began his career in radio — first on a local station, then on CKLG in Vancouver (via Transformers at the Moon). One of his earliest voice acting roles was General Hawk on the 1989 “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” cartoon, a role he took over from Ed Gilbert on Season 2 (via IMDb).
From then on, Kaye has been an unstoppable force, lending his voice to literally hundreds of projects between films, TV shows, and video games, per his IMDb profile. American anime fans may recognize him from any number of appearances in the dubbed versions of popular 1990s and 2000s series. Among many, many others, he voiced Recoome in the Ocean Group dub of “Dragon Ball Z,” Soun Tendo on “Ranma ½,” Treize Khushrenada on “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing,” and Sesshomaru on the original “Inuyasha” and its corresponding movies. More recently, he’s also reprised the role of Sesshomaru on the sequel series “Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon.”
If there’s one fictional universe David Kaye is particularly associated with, it’s the “Transformers” franchise. Beginning with “Beast Wars: Transformers” in 1996, he played the central role of Decepticon leader Megatron for the better part of a decade across multiple different series, in both North America and Japan (via IMDb). His dubbing career alone has included the role of Megatron for the entirety of the anime franchise’s run, including “Transformers: Armada,” “Transformers: Energon,” and “Transformers: Cybertron.”
When “Transformers” got a reboot on Cartoon Network in 2007 (in tandem with Michael Bay’s then-nascent film series), Kaye was brought back on board. But, instead of Megatron, “Transformers: Animated” saw him play the role of Optimus Prime, as well as recurring characters like Lugnut and Grimlock (via IMDb). And, in subsequent iterations of the mammoth cartoon franchise, he has also returned for one-off roles, such as Hardshell on “Transformers Prime” and Slashmark on “Transformers: Robots in Disguise.”
In addition to the “Transformers” franchise and his myriad anime appearances, David Kaye has built one of the most impressive voice acting resumés around in the action-adventure genre. One particular role of his that serves as an example is his work on the iconic WB animated series “X-Men: Evolution” (via IMDb).
Kaye portrayed none other than the man himself, Professor Charles Xavier, the founder of the Xavier Institute and a mentor to the show’s ensemble of heroes. Given the timing of the animated show’s debut, the depiction of Professor X on “X-Men: Evolution” was likely heavily influenced by Patrick Stewart’s take on the character in the 2000 series starter film “X-Men,” which immediately felt definitive. As such, Kaye had the arduous task of giving Xavier a voice and a cadence that fit in with the audience’s understanding of him, as shaped by Stewart, while still preserving the specificity of the interpretation of one of the world’s most powerful mutants on “Evolution.”
Needless to say, he aced it. Out of all the wise mentor figures that kids’ fantasy adventure cartoons have been peppered with throughout history, Professor X easily stands out as one of the most memorable. Kaye even went ahead and voiced Apocalypse in the show’s final arc, too, for good measure.
Much like “Transformers” and all its various installments, “Ben 10” is a franchise that has brought David Kaye into the fold in multiple different capacities throughout the years.
It all started with the role of villain Khyber on the pilot of “Ben 10: Omniverse,” the last series set in the franchise’s original continuity (via IMDb). In addition to Khyber, Kaye provided voices for several Omnitrix aliens, including Shocksquatch, Gravattack, and Cannonbolt. Once Khyber left the picture at the end of the fourth “Omniverse” story arc, Kaye continued to observe his duties as one of many handymen in the show’s voice acting team, appearing in different voice roles of various episodes depending on what characters were called for each time. Later, he took on a steadier role as Skurd in Season 8.
Then, “Ben 10” was rebooted in 2016 as a zanier, more kid-friendly version of its predecessor, which Cartoon Network viewers have since embraced. At that point, Kaye took a different route by assuming the decidedly non-villainous role of Grandpa Max Tennyson (via IMDb). At the same time, he was pulling double (or even triple) duty as the occasional Omnitrix inhabitant.
Much like “Transformers: Animated” was buoyed by the simultaneous Hollywood live-action movie, and “X-Men: Evolution” got a big boost in popularity from the success of the 2000 film, Disney XD’s “Avengers Assemble” was a show that arrived at just the right time. The show filled the shoes of “The Avengers,” as well as the gap left by the preceding series, “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”
Having already voiced the Supreme Intelligence on an episode of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” David Kaye alternated between three very big roles on “Avengers Assemble” (via IMDb). First, he played J.A.R.V.I.S., the A.I. assistant to Tony Stark that originated in the live-action “Iron Man” films. Then, he once again took a turn towards darkness with the role of supervillain Baron Heinrich Zemo. Finally, much like Paul Bettany himself, Kaye saw J.A.R.V.I.S. break out of the suit and become Vision — a character he played on even more episodes than Bettany did on the Marvel Disney+ show “WandaVision.”