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Who voiced the yellow M&M before J.K. Simmons?

Bruno Cooke November 21, 2020
who voiced the yellow m&m before j.k. simmons
Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

American actor J.K. Simmons has voiced the yellow M&M since 1996, featuring in M&M’s TV ads for almost as long as they’ve been around. But who voiced the yellow M&M before J.K. Simmons?

Who is actor J.K. Simmons?

Star of the silver screen, J.K. Simmons won a host of awards for his role as Damien Chazelle’s ruthless jazz instructor Terence Fletcher (Whiplash, 2014). Since then, he has scored major parts in dozens of features and TV shows.

But true Simmons fans know his longest-running acting role has been the voice of the yellow M&M. The actor, who is from Detroit, Michigan, has held this post since 1996. 

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But the ads started in 1994. 

Who gave voice to the yellow M&M for two whole years before J.K. Simmons stepped up to the plate?

Who voiced the yellow M&M before J.K. Simmons?

Between 1994 and 1996, John Goodman provided the voice for the yellow M&M. The TV ads featured Goodman’s voice for two years before switching to J.K. Simmons.

Barton Fink actor Goodman has racked up 162 film and TV credits. His major cinematic hits include Argo, The Big Lebowski and Monsters, Inc.

John Goodman first found modest acting success in the Eighties by acting in TV commercials

He slapped himself and spoke the tagline: “Thanks… I needed that!” for Skin Bracer. He has also acted in TV ads for McDonald’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats and 7-Up.

During 2017 and 2018, Goodman shed 100lbs (45kg). On his weight loss, he said he missed eating M&Ms, among other things. 

J.K. Simmons reflects on the role of yellow M&M

In an interview with late-night host Stephen Colbert, Simmons revealed the yellow M&M’s face is also designed to incorporate features of his own. If you’ve noticed a resemblance, that explains it.

Asked to provide a back story for the yellow M&M, Simmons was quick to the mark. He said: “Born and raised in Georgia – he’s a peanut. That’s it.” 

Pressed for more, he continued: “Went to acting school and lost the accent.”

M&M’s gifted Simmons with a hilariously sweet mosaic portrait, constructed entirely of M&Ms. The sizeable portrait makes use of the yellow M&Ms to which Simmons lends his distinctive voice.

Who else features in M&Ms ads?

Simmons isn’t the only Hollywood heavyweight to feature in M&M ads. Danny DeVito, Jon Lovitz and voice actor Billy West have also lent their talents to the campaigns.

Danny DeVito is perhaps best known as the narrative voice (Mr Wormwood) from Matilda.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or