This is a replay of my interview with Bret Iwan. It originally aired as episode 249. Bret is the current voice of Mickey Mouse but is so much more than that with beautiful connections to Walt Disney and the parks!
Who is Bret Iwan?
Bret Iwan is a voice actor and is the 4th voice of Mickey Mouse! He brings a great deal of Disney passion and Walt energy to his role.
Bret grew up as a very creative and imaginative child. He loved to draw and appreciated old Disney cartoons. He would watch the cartoons with his dad and they would draw the characters together.
Even from a young age, Bret was fascinated with the animation and artistic expression. He got an art desk and animation disk to be able to create his own cartoons. His parents saw his passion and signed him up for animation classes.
When he was eleven years old, Bret typed up a letter and sent it to Disney. He asked to be hired by Disney or to even just be able to serve coffee to the animators so that he could learn. The return letter gave examples of what he could read and learn in order to prepare for a career.
At the same time, Bret also had a fascination with trains. Bret’s dad has always had trains and set them up. Many of their family vacations centered around trains and Bret loved studying the artistic nature of the trains.
Just like Bret took drawings and animated them to bring characters to life, trains are brought to life as well. Throughout his life, Bret loves the element of learning about trains.
The Kansas City Connection
Bret has a Kansas City with Walt Disney (and Shannon!). While he was in art school in Florida he was recruited by Hallmark Cards to work in Kansas City. He loved it!
Bret really loved the history of Kansas City and the Disney connection was also very special to him. He only made one visit to Marcilene while he was there, but he would love to be back.
It was while he was in Kansas City working at Hallmark where he got the call to be the voice of Mickey Mouse!
The Journey to Mickey
Bret was at home remodeling his bathroom and talking like Mickey all day. He had an email that evening asking if he wants to be the voice of Mickey Mouse. At first he assumed that it was a joke his friends were playing on him.
However, a friend that worked at Pixar received an internal email about looking for an understudy for the voice of Mickey Mouse. Initially, Bret was just excited to audition. He called in and followed the steps to apply.
For the next few weeks, he would obsess about the voice of Mickey Mouse! He finally got a call about going to LA to meet with some folks. He went out there and had a second audition.
And he waited again… Googling daily to see if someone had gotten the job. One day he saw that Wayne Allwine had passed away. This meant that the search was going from searching for an understudy to searching for the new voice of Mickey Mouse.
Wayne’s wife, Russi was the voice of Minnie Mouse and welcomed Bret so warmly. She helped bring him into the fold and find his place.
It was 2009 when Bret became the 4th voice of Mickey Mouse. He moved to California to make this happen.
His very first opportunity to be Mickey Mouse’s voice was rerecording something Wayne had already done – a cavalcade for Animal Kingdom. They changed the script slightly and Bret loved doing this!
The next thing Bret did was Disney on Ice recordings. He also did recordings for toys. This was a surprise for Bret because there were so many toys.
After the toys, it was time for video games – they needed Mickey’s voice! Now Bret finds himself doing a lot of television shows. It’s unique for a voice actor to do so many different projects for Mickey.
He is an honorary cast member, but he is a free agent. The blessing of being the voice of Mickey, Bret is very busy just doing that one voice.
Bret gets contracted for each of his individual job. He doesn’t have one specific contract for being the voice of Mickey. He is the official voice as a gentleman’s agreement. He is a SAG member and that provides him benefits and protection.
Bret records alone and can do a television show in about 2-3 hours. It’s really not that long of a process for him and he doesn’t see it until it airs!
One of the places that he has recorded is the studio where he sent his letter as a child. What a full-circle moment!
Overtime, as Bret has continued doing Mickey’s voice, he has become much more comfortable and it feels more natural being Mickey’s voice.
Bret was given the advice: “You influence the character less than the character influences you.” and he finds that to be so true. He’s not putting the Bret spin on Mickey, he’s doing his best to keep Walt’s Mickey alive.
Bret loves challenges and growth and because of that he was able to get through the difficult moments of becoming a voice actor.
Bret grew up loving Fantasmic. He remembers when it debuted in 1992. He was on a trip with his grandparents and saw it for the first time.
He loved everything from the very beginning. He became obsessed with Fantasmic. His dad purchased the soundtrack for him to listen to… and he listened to it over and over again!
He and his brother would put on a show acting out the show and doing Mickey impressions. This is when he really discovered that he was good at it!
Another full-circle moment was recording the audio for the newest version of Fantasmic. He had already recorded the Tokyo version that would then be dubbed in Japanese. However, when he went in he was handed the script that he knew very well…for Disneyland!
At first Bret didn’t want to do it because he loved Fantasmic and didn’t want to see it rerecorded. However, he was so honored to work on such a special project. When he was asked if he was familiar with Fantasmic, he laughed because he already knew it so well!
He had it done in about 40 minutes and didn’t give it much more thought. When the new show debuted at Disneyland that summer, Shannon was there but Bret didn’t have a ticket!
However, he was in the park when it debuted with his family. And when it starts, he hears his voice as Mickey! He’d hoped they’d been able to keep Wayne’s voice at the end, but they weren’t… so when it got to the end, Bret heard his voice.
When he heard this, he sobbed. It was so meaningful, especially being there with his brother! This was really magical and quite the dream come true.
Bret hopes that his story can inspire others to live their dreams as well.
Bret has a Main Gate pass like an employee but prior to that, he did have an annual pass. He tries to get to Disneyland when he can and he loves it!
Bret also likes to get to Disney World as well. Bret likes to travel with Ashley, who is the voice of Ahsoka Tano and the founder of Her Universe. They have become great friends.
Bret has been designing for Disney since he started as the voice of Mickey. He has combined his love of National Parks and Disney, showing Mickey visiting the national parks.
He has also designed a pair of ears as well! He channels Walt Disney when he designs and loves the retro feel of the ears.
Bret has another creative outlet and has had a love of interior design. He started Bungalow Modern in 2015. Bret spent years renovating his first home, a craftsman fixer upper. Others took notice and wanted his help, so he turned it into a business.
He started out of his home and got clients fairly quickly. He has done homes, restaurants, and even a country club! Bret’s brothers have also been a big help in his restorations.
Voice Your Dreams Tour
Ashley and Bret have a tour that the pandemic put on hold. He and Ashley are passionate about helping people put a voice to their dreams. They will share their stories in order to inspire others.
Perhaps a podcast is in his future!
Connect with Bret
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