Spotify and Higher Ground’s podcast The Big Hit Show explores definitive moments in pop culture, with a brand new season devoted to the megalith that is Pokémon. As the highest-grossing franchise of all time, there are a lot of interesting nuggets of information out there, but this is one of the weirder ones.
Turns out an American studio considered Leonardo DiCaprio for the role of Ash Ketchum in the Pokémon movie. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Pokémon connection may just be a passing thought in some producer’s head, but what a strange thought it is. What were they basing it on? The way he died in the sea so believably?
As Alex Pappademas says in the podcast: “In 1999, once the games, the cards and the TV series had become a phenomenon in the United States, the rights to release a US version of [the Japanese] movie became a hot property. And, not long after they sold the TV show, Norman Grossfeld and 4Kids were tapped to shop the movie around to American movie studios. One of those studios pitched Norman an unusual idea for the lead voice actor.”
4Kids’ Norman Grossfeld gives some more context, claiming the studio said “Hey, we really want this. We can make this work. We’re going to bring in Leonardo DiCaprio to play the voice of Ash. It’s going to get a lot of buzz, we’re going to have a lot and we’ll get all these celebrities. It’s going to be really big.”