This Full House guest star became the voice of Casper the Friendly Ghost
On Full House, a child star named Malachi Pearson appeared twice before Steven Spielberg plucked him from obscurity in 1995 and made him the voice of Casper the Friendly Ghost on the big screen.
Before he became Casper, first, we met Pearson on Full House as Brian Kagan, a friend of Stephanie Tanner in "Nerd for a Day." Then he appeared again as Brian, with D.J. serving as his babysitter in "Misadventures in Babysitting."
For Pearson, the Full House recurring role came after starting his career as a child star in commercials for popular products like Skippy peanut butter. His first-ever role was across from Buzz Aldrin, swinging in the astronauts’ arms and selling Tang.
His earliest TV roles came in the mid-Eighties on shows like Family Ties and The New Leave It to Beaver, and his earliest voice work was providing background voices in the Disney smash hit The Little Mermaid.
"He’s not shy," his mother Terry Pearson told the Five Cities Times in 1986.
She said before he got discovered, he was just a rambunctious little boy who loved attention, known to break down into dance any time he found himself in a crowd.
Because he imitated commercials so much, his mom entered him into a talent show, where an agent immediately spotted his star power.
"We were just ecstatic," his mom said when Malachi’s very first audition got him cast in the Tang commercial. "Things have been really happening for Malachi."
By the Nineties, Malachi was seen on sitcoms like Full House and Family Matters, but he’d never been cast to play a major role in a movie.
That changed when Steven Spielberg decided to make Casper in 1995, auditioning hundreds of boys before he found just the right voice to capture the Friendly Ghost.
"One of my problems was in finding the voice for Casper," Spielberg told The Courier News in 1995. "I listened to hundreds of kids. Most of them came in being so sweet. I knew their parents or managers had probably told them to mince it up. I went with 12-year-old Malachi Pearson. He had never worked in a movie before and has the right mixture of adolescent enthusiasm with the innocence of Casper."
Although Spielberg cast a different actor, Devon Sawa, to play the real boy version of Casper, Pearson did all of the voicework, becoming for a new generation of kids the voice of Casper the Friendly Ghost.
"Malachi Pearson did the hard work," Sawa tweeted in 2020. "I was in Casper for 30 seconds."
One critic agreed with Spielberg that Pearson was perfect, giving Casper "a wistfulness that never lapses into cuteness."
Pearson nailed the voice so well that he won a Young Artist Award in 1996.
His spooktacular performance also led to an animated TV spin-off of the movie, The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper. Naturally, he voiced Casper in the cartoon, too.
Once Pearson grew up and hit 18 years of age, his interest in acting seems to have waned, though.
His final role was a 2000 bit part on Malcolm in the Middle, then, in a move just like that Friendly Ghost might make, he gently faded from the spotlight.
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