Jul. 28th, 1941
Montreal, Qu�bec, Canada
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Cullen was born in Montreal, Quebec to Henry L. Cullen and Muriel McCann. He is a member of the first graduating class of the National Theatre School of Canada, which graduated in 1963. His brother, Larry Cullen, was a retired Captain in the United States Marine Corps, and helped inspire the voice of Optimus Prime. His sister, Michaela Tomlinson, is married to Frank Tomlinson, and has been supportive from the beginning.
In 1968, he appeared as Giles with Joan Stuart as 'Penelope' in L'Anglaise, a CBC sitcom about a French-Canadian husband with an English-Canadian wife (CBC's Funny You Should Say That). He also performed a French-Canadian astronaut character named Bebe LaToque alongside Ted Zeigler for a 1969 children's show on CFCF-TV in Montreal.From 1967 to 1969, he was the announcer for Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. In 1974, Cullen was a series regular and the announcer on The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show.
Cullen recalls auditioning for the role of the robot Optimus Prime at a casting house in Burbank, California, explaining that as he read Prime's character breakdown, he saw that it was "the opportunity of the year", and heeded his brother Larry's advice: "Peter, don't be a Hollywood hero, be a real hero. Real heroes don't yell and act tough; they are tough enough to be gentle, so control yourself." Cullen later learned from his agent, Steve Tisherman, that he not only won the part of Prime, but also, to his surprise, the role of Ironhide as well, which he saw as a "home run".
He has stated that Optimus is his favorite voice role, and that he based the voice of the Autobot leader on his older brother Larry, who served in Vietnam. "When he came home, I could see a change. He was quieter and he was a man and a hero to me," says the actor. "I watched him and listened to him. I'd never had an opportunity to do a superhero, and when that came, [that voice] just came right out of me and I sounded like Optimus."
He has also stated that he had no idea of Prime's popularity until the character's controversial death in the 1986 animated film, as the studio had never given him fan letters from children addressed to Optimus. The public backlash over Optimus' death surprised producers greatly. Children were leaving the theaters because of the character's death. The writers temporarily revived the character for a single episode in Season 3 called "Dark Awakening". Initially, this was intended to be his final appearance, but after fan requests continued, "The Return of Optimus Prime", a two-part episode was produced. The original ending of "Dark Awakening" was altered in reruns to include a teaser about the return of the character.
Cullen reprised the role of Optimus Prime in the 2007 Transformers live-action film, and its sequels Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon and the games based on them. He originally had a short cameo in Revenge of the Fallen, but this was eventually removed from the final cut.
Cullen again reprised his role as Optimus Prime in the video game Transformers: War for Cybertron, its sequel game Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and in the recent television series Transformers: Prime in 2010. His performance in the premiere season of Transformers: Prime earned him a nomination for a 2011 Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program category.
- Graduated from Regiopolios College in Kingston Ontario, Canada.
- He was the first actor to voice Nintendo's video game mascot Mario - of Super Mario Brothers - for the Saturday Supercade series.
- Graduated from the National Theater School of Canada in 1963.
- Though he provided vocals for the inhuman alien Predator in the Predator films and the voice of Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh, he is best known for voicing the heroic Autobot leader Optimus Prime in the animated Transformers series. Though it was originally intended for his character to remain dead after being killed in the 1986 Transformers film, the death caused such a public backlash that the surprised producers brought the character back in two separate episodes of the third season (ultimately saving the world in the second appearance).
- Was one, of only two, voice-over actors from the original _"Transformers" (1984)_ (qv) animated series to voice a character in the live action film version, _Transformers (2007)_ (qv). The other being 'Charles Adler (I)' (qv). Cullen once again provided the voice of the valiant Autobot leader, Optimus Prime for the film.
- Frequently does voice overs for commercials, cartoons, movie previews, etc.
- Son is stuntman 'Clay Cullen' (qv)
- Has stated that the voice of legendary American film actor John Wayne had some influence on his choice for the voice of Optimus Prime. However, he clarified in an interview for the 2007 Transformers video game that the inspiration for Prime's voice was actually based on an impression of his older brother's voice -- the authoritative tone he used while serving as an officer with the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.
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