Peter Cullen Recalls Having to Audition for Michael Bay’s Transformers Movie

No one is more synonymous with the Transformers franchise than Peter Cullen, the long-serving voice of Autobots leader Optimus Prime. It is now 15 years since Michael Bay brought the 80s cartoon to life with a live-action movie that never landed with critics but was a huge box office crowd-pleaser and spawned a number of sequels. With a new Transformers movie coming next year, with Cullen once again reprising his role as Prime, the actor recently recalled his original audition for the role that he had already played for many years.

While it is now clear that Cullen will play Optimus Prime in any movies that he wants to, when he went up for the role in the first Transformers movie, there were no guarantees that he would actually win the part. As per CBR, Cullen appeared during a tour of Paramount Studios, and standing by the big-rig form of Optimus Prime and explained:

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“When I first auditioned for Michael, a young gal was going to read the lines of the other character. We looked at the script, and it said Ironhide. I actually played Ironhide in the cartoon series as well. So I said, ‘Well, I’d like to do a take of Ironhide, too.’ Michael looked up and said, ‘You can do that?’ I said, ‘Yeah, all the time. Frank Welker, one of the great voice actors of all time, he’d do Megatron and like five other voices. So we always ended up talking to ourselves.’… [Bay] always had a really big smile on his face. It was just interesting to see how [my voice] was going to fit how big Michael’s concept of a 45-foot statue, how it was going to fit my voice. He was like, ‘How are we going to make that adjustment?’ So I said, ‘We’ll just go lower.'”

Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts Arrives in Theaters Next Year

Paramount Pictures

Following the success of Bumblebee, a spin-off movie from the Michael Bay franchise, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will bring the robots in disguise back to the big screen for the first time in five years, and Cullen once again lends his iconic voice to Optimus Prime. While Prime was mostly absent from 2017’s Bumblebee, this time around, he will be back at the head of the action and will come face to face with the Maximals, Predacons and Terrorcons. Director Steven Capel Jr. previously discussed expanding the Transformers universe, and he said:

“We wanted to expand the universe. You have the Autobots and the Decepticons, and I would say my new flair to this is the Terracons. The Terracons are a new threat to Optimus Prime, and it’s something I pride myself on when entering the franchise. I’ve done Rocky with Creed, and you bring the nostalgia that fans want, but also bring something they aren’t expecting, and the Terracons are that.”

After being hit by Covid delays, Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts was shifted from a June 2022 release to now arrive on June 9, 2023.