Voice actor and former New Orleans resident Jim Cummings lists Winnie the Pooh and Tigger as two of his favorites among the countless characters he’s brought to life, but right up there with them is Ray the Firefly from Disney’s New Orleans-set “The Princess and the Frog” — a role that he said almost went to another voice that should be familiar to local ears.
“It’s funny because they tend to use a lot of celebrities and this and that, and I went out to do the audition originally for ‘Princess and the Frog’ and my agent said, ‘Well, the casting people really love you, but they’re not going to give you a callback. They’re going to wait until the very end of the audition process until it’s down to you and somebody else,'” Cummings said, calling recently to chat about Disney’s new “Winnie the Pooh,” opening Friday (July 15). “I went, ‘Oh, God, that’s fine. I guess I’ll be running into Harry Connick Jr. pretty soon.’
“And sure enough, like six months later, she comes up and says, ‘Remember what you said?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Me and Harry Connick Jr.?’ She goes, ‘Yep.’
“But I rolled those dice. I brought my washboard, you know, and I brought my thimbles and I brought it all to the (final audition),” he said before lapsing into his Ray the Firefly voice: “We passed a good time, with that zydeco, yeah.”
“And,” he said, “I ended up getting the job.”