19 celebrities you might've missed in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra
Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel series The Legend of Korra ended years ago, but fans are still finding out just how many celebrities lent their voice to the shows. You might have already known that actors like Mae Whitman and J.K. Simmons portrayed main characters in ATLA and Korra, respectively, but did you know Tinashe and George Takei made short cameos too? Coincidentally, many guest stars voiced Fire Nation characters. Take from that what you will ...
Tinashe — On Ji
Singer Tinashe is no stranger to TV, as she’s appeared on numerous shows including Two and a Half Men and Empire, and has lent her voice to animated series such as Rocket Power and Holly Hobbie and Friends. But her casting as On Ji, Aang's (a.k.a. Kuzon) friendly Fire Nation classmate in season 3 flew under the radar. Granted, Tinashe’s episode aired in 2007 when she was about 14, but still, we had no idea.
Mark Hamill — Ozai
Mark Hamill will always be Luke Skywalker to us, but many fans also know he’s a prolific and talented voice actor. Hamill’s voice-acting career goes back to the ‘70s, and his most famous characters include the Joker in numerous Batman projects and the Hobgoblin from the Spider-Man animated series. So naturally, Hamill was perfect as Fire Lord Ozai, the evil tyrant whom the Gaang stopped from taking over the world. He played Ozai in 10 episodes, but also voiced additional characters on Avatar, including the baboon spirit in season 1.
Jason Isaacs — Zhao
Jason Isaacs is just so dang good at playing evil bad guys with awesome hair — first he was Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movie franchise, and then Isaacs was thrilling as Zhao, the Fire Nation leader bent on capturing the Avatar. The Englishman gave the character grit and intensity, and his convincing portrayal allowed fans to truly love hating Zhao, who had great muttonchops but terrible morals.
Lauren Tom — Joo Dee
Joy Luck Club actress Lauren Tom, whom audiences might also recognize as Julie from Friends, has voiced so many classic animated characters, like Minh and Connie Souphanousinphone from King of the Hill. But Tom also had a short stint in season 2 of Avatar, in which she portrayed Joo Dee, the suspiciously cheerful guide who led Aang and his friends around the Earth Kingdom capital. Although she only appeared in two episodes, we can’t ever forget Joo Dee’s eerie catchphrase: “There is no war in Ba Sing Se.”
Ron Perlman — Sozin
Ron Perlman must love the color red, huh — first he played Hellboy, then he voiced Sozin, the Fire Lord who incited the Hundred Years War.
George Takei — ship warden
Star Trek’s George Takei actually started his Hollywood career by doing voiceover work for the English dubbing of Japanese monster films, and he’s since lent his voice to numerous animated projects. While Takei went against type to portray the deplorable warden of a prison rig in Avatar’s first season, his distinct voice couldn’t be missed.
Mae Whitman — Katara
Loyal fans might already know that Good Girls star Mae Whitman voiced Katara in ATLA when she was a teen, given that the waterbending master was the show’s female lead. But did you also know Whitman played Rose/Huntsgirl in American Dragon: Jake Long, which meant she and actor Dante Basco worked together on two animated series concurrently. Basco voiced Zuko in Avatar and the titular character in Jake Long.
Héctor Elizondo — Wan Shi Tong
Chicago Hope and The Princess Diaries actor Héctor Elizondo played the distrusting Wan Shi Tong, who guarded a vast library of knowledge in The Last Airbender and Korra. The Emmy winner was straight up scary as the enormous owl spirit and probably gave the many kids who grew up on the show nightmares.
Serena Williams — Ming (Avatar) and female sage (Korra)
Serena Williams makes it into the Avatar hall of fame, having voiced characters in both ATLA and Korra. The tennis icon named Avatar as her favorite show, and got to voice Ming, the kind Fire Nation prison guard who helps Iroh in season 3. Williams also played a female sage in one episode of Korra. She also regularly tweets about the Avatar world and even made headlines for asking a deep-cut question about the origins of bending.
Rachel Dratch — Ember Island Players actress
It makes total sense that Saturday Night Live alum Rachel Dratch would’ve been involved in one of ATLA’s funniest episodes, in which she voiced the actress who played the Avatar in an Ember Island Players production. Aang may not have liked his portrayal, but fans of the show thought it was hilarious.
Aubrey Plaza — Eska
The role of Eska in Korra was destined to go to Aubrey Plaza, who had already made a name for herself as the deadpan April on Parks and Recreation. Eska, the Northern Water Tribe princess, possessed April’s same twisted humor and disdain for humans, except she was 100 times more powerful with her waterbending ability. Plaza had a extended tenure on the show too, appearing in three of Korra’s four seasons.
Rami Malek — Tahno
While some actors’ inclusion on the list might surprise even die-hard Korra fans, Rami Malek’s casting probably won’t. If you started the show recently, you’ll have gone, “Hey that’s Mr. Robot” as soon as pro-bender Tahno opened his mouth. At the time, Malek was most famous for Night at the Museum and The Pacific, but regardless, his unique voice definitely caught viewers’ ears.
Lisa Edelstein — Kya
Once a healer, always a healer. Lisa Edelstein, who famously portrayed Dr. Lisa Cuddy in House and is also an MD in The Good Doctor, was a different kind of caretaker in Korra. As Kya, Aang and Katara's waterbending daughter, Edelstein brought out the intelligence fans loved from Cuddy, just not the doctor’s perfectionist tendencies. Kya even kinda resembled the actress, who appeared in 14 episodes of Korra.
J.K. Simmons — Tenzin
Being Korra’s mentor, as well as an airbending master and leader, the character of Tenzin needed gravitas. And who better to do that than J.K. Simmons? Besides voicing Tenzin in 44 episodes of the series, the Oscar-winning actor provided the voices for additional characters, such as “feathered hat man” in a season 1 episode.
Kiernan Shipka — Jinora
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina star Kiernan Shipka did a great job personifying Tenzin’s daughter Jinora, who truly was Team Avatar’s secret weapon in Korra. The caring and bright airbender mastered the element at such a young age, and was able to access the spirit world even when her father couldn’t, much to his chagrin.
Alyson Stoner — Opal
Alyson Stoner might be known as that dancing girl in Missy Elliott’s music video, or recognizable from numerous Disney Channel projects (including as Isabella on Phineas and Ferb), but she also played airbender Opal in nine episodes of Korra. Opal, along with many others, developed airbending after Korra opened the spirit portal.
Steven Yeun — Avatar Wan
Maria Bamford — Pema
Maria Bamford was the MVP of Korra, voicing not only Tenzin’s wife Pema in the show, but also at least nine other characters. Bamford especially showed off her comedic sensibilities as the reluctant airbender Ryu’s mom, who exuded big Midwestern energy. You might’ve also heard Bamford’s voice in animated shows including CatDog, Adventure Time, and BoJack Horseman.
Daniel Dae Kim — General Fong (Avatar) and Hiroshi Sato (Korra)
Like Williams, Daniel Dae Kim deserves a spot in the Avatar hall of fame for appearing in both ATLA and Korra. In one episode of the original series he was General Fong, the Earth Kingdom officer whose plan to force Aang into the Avatar state backfired. The Lost actor had a longer arc in Korra, where he embodied Hiroshi Sato, the disgraced tycoon who betrayed Team Avatar.