RECESS premiered on ABC in 1997, introducing viewers to the world of Third Street Elementary School.
In particular, the show focused on a group of six kids: Vince, Gretchen, Gus, Mikey, Spinelli and TJ, the leader of the pack.
While the show took place in a school, it was far from a ‘school’ show.
Instead, Recess explored playground antics in a heightened environment; often including metaphors that become obvious on a rewatch years later.
If one had to pick an outright ‘main’ character of Recess, it would be TJ.
Not only was he the group leader, but he also had the most episodes focusing on him.
Considering TJ’s integral role in the show, it may surprise passionate fans to learn his voice actor changed multiple times in the series.
From first appearing in 1997 to last appearing in 2006, four actors voiced TJ in the character’s history.
This is more than anyone else in the overall franchise.
For context: Spinelli, Vince and Gretchen kept the same actor for the entire run while Gus and Mikey had two voice actors each.
TJ may have been an iconic character, but multiple people contributed to that legacy.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the actors who voiced TJ Detweiler.
Ross Malinger was the first actor to voice TJ Detweiler. He’s perhaps best known for playing Tom Hanks’ son in Sleepless In Seattle.
In total, Malinger portrayed TJ for 30 episodes; all of season 1 and the first four episodes of season 2.
After starring in the entirety of the first season, Malinger departed after his voice broke. Thus, he no longer sounded like TJ.
He appeared in shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210, Party of Five and Without A Trace.
Malinger also guest-starred on Seinfeld and appeared in Kindergarten Cop opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger.
After leaving acting behind in the mid-2000s, Malinger now works as a sales manager in the automotive industry.
Andrew Lawrence assumed the role of TJ after Ross Malinger’s exit from Recess.
At the time, Lawrence had just done two seasons of Brotherly Love opposite brothers Joey and Matthew Lawrence.
He voiced TJ for the remainder of the TV show’s run; from 1998 to 2001.
In turn, this makes him the longest-serving actor to play TJ.
Lawrence continued the role in Recess: School’s Out which had a theatrical release. As well as this, the direct-to-video Recess Christmas: Miracle On Third Street.
Ultimately, like Malinger, Lawrence grew out of the role.
He continued acting, appearing opposite brother Joey on Melissa and Joey for a couple of episodes. Lawrence also had a long recurring stint on Hawaii Five-O.
In early 2023, Lawrence and his brothers launched Brotherly Love Podcast.
With a nostalgic view on the 90s, guests have includes both of their parents, Melissa Joan Hart, Christine Taylor and David Lascher.
After Lawrence’s exit, Myles Jeffrey became the third actor to play the role.
His stint as TJ covered two direct-to-video movies; Recess: Taking The Fifth Grade and Recess: All Growed Down. These were released in 2003.
Being 12 years old when beginning recording in 2002, Jeffrey was the youngest cast member of the whole franchise.
After voicing TJ, Jeffrey lent his voice to another animated project: the 2006 feature film The Ant Bully, with a few other roles along the way.
The fourth and final voice of TJ happened to have the shortest stint.
Technically speaking, Axel Alba did not even play TJ in a Recess property. Instead, he voiced the role in Lax, a 2006 crossover episode with Lilo and Stitch: The Series.
Other than this, Alba only had a few more minor roles in Alvin and the Chipmunks and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, among others, before leaving acting behind.