Netflix's 'Klaus': Meet the Voices Behind Each Animated Character

7:00 PM 11/17/2019

by Umber Bhatti

The animated film includes a star-studded cast with Jason Schwartzman and J.K. Simmons in lead roles.

If you weren't feeling the holiday spirit already, Netflix's animated film Klaus aims to instill some Christmas joy.  

Klaus takes place in the gloomy town of Smeerenburg, where children don't have friends and being mean to one another is the expected social etiquette.

But outcast Jesper, played by Jason Schwartzman, has a plan to remind the town of the importance of community and togetherness.  

When Jesper — dubbed the postal academy's worst student — notices Mr. Klaus (J.K Simmons), the mailman gets an idea. Klaus is a recluse carpenter with a finesse for crafting toys. But when Jesper realizes these toys are just collecting dust on Klaus' shelves, he suggests that he could deliver the gifts to the children in town.

The duo forms an unlikely friendship, as Mr. Klaus asks to accompany Jesper on his journey, creating a new origin story for Santa Claus.

But not all in Smeerenburg desire change. While some become more optimistic and hopeful for a future — especially one where Mr. Klaus will bring children presents — certain townspeople become fearful of change.

The Hollywood Reporter film critic John DeFore called the movie an "unexpected charmer." He added: "A family holiday film that should sit especially well with members of the family who feel they could probably do without another holiday film, Sergio Pablos' Klaus invents its own unexpected and very enjoyable origin story for the big guy who gives out toys every Christmas eve."

Directed by Pablos, creator of other animated stories such as Despicable Me, Klaus hit theaters Nov. 8 and became available on Netflix on Nov. 15.

Pablos spoke to Animation Magazine about the film’s unique look and its use of 2D animation. "If you learn to listen, you’ll find that some ideas clearly lend themselves more to CGI, some to live action, and every now and then you come across an idea that clearly would benefit from the organic quality that only traditional animation can bring,” Pablos said. “This was the case with Klaus.”

Read on to meet the actors who bring life to the townspeople of Smeerenburg.

  • Jason Schwartzman

    Shwartzman leads the film as the brave and hopeful mailman Jesper.

    The actor is well known for starring in Wes Anderson films, including lending his voice to Fantastic Mr. Fox. Schwartzman was recently in another Netflix movie, Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns, and will also be appearing in Anderson’s The French Dispatch in 2020.

  • J.K. Simmons

    The innovative yet mysterious Mr. Klaus is played by J.K. Simmons.

    Simmons has had roles in TV series including Law and Order and Oz and is currently lending his voice to Netflix’s BoJack Horseman.

    The actor has also had a fruitful career in film, winning an Academy Award for best supporting actor in 2015 for his performance in Whiplash.

    Simmons will be starring in the upcoming Amazon Prime animated series Invincible and is currently filming the movie Ghost Draft.

  • Rashida Jones

    Rashida Jones plays Alva, a teacher who befriends Jesper and helps him in his quest to unify the Smeerenburg community.

    Jones is no stranger to voice acting, most recently voicing Donna Who in the 2018 Grinch. After her Parks and Rec fame, Jones went on to lead the TBS comedy Angie Tribeca and is set to star in a new Netflix TV series, Black Excellence. The actress is also appearing in Sofia Coppola’s film On the Rocks in 2020.

  • Joan Cusack

    Joan Cusack appears in Klaus as Mrs. Krum.

    The actress most recently reprised the voice of Jessie in Toy Story 4 and will appear in another Netflix holiday movie this season, Let it Snow, adapted from a young adult novel. Cusack was nominated for Academy Awards twice for best supporting role for the films Working Girl (1989) and In & Out (1998).

  • Will Sasso

    Will Sasso will play Mr. Ellingboe in the animated movie.

    Sasso was a longtime castmember of MadTV and also has had guest roles in a variety of television shows, including Family Guy, Justified and Hot in Cleveland. The actor also starred as Curly in the 2012 film The Three Stooges. He’s appearing in Jon Stewart’s film Irresistible in 2020.  

  • Norm Macdonald

    Norm Macdonald lends his voice talent to play a character named Mogen.

    The comedian and actor has had a long career within Hollywood, starting as a writer most notably for Roseanne, where his comedic skills got him cast on Saturday Night Live for five seasons. Macdonald most recently starred in Adult Swim’s animated comedy Mike Tyson Mysteries.