Lane Toran, the actor who voiced Arnold on Hey Arnold!, for the most part, from 1996 to 2001 is probably a bigger fan of the show than you are. Toran is returning for the upcoming Hey Arnold Jungle Movie as a character named Che, since he is, after all, much too old to voice the 9-year-old Arnold. But the actor achieved fame outside of his voice acting roles for one huge reason: in 2015, viral articles began appearing that declared the "Guy Who Voiced Arnold In Hey Arnold! insanely hot now." And, as Toran reveals to me over the phone on a Tuesday afternoon, he wasn't at all expecting the internet to give him that title.
"I was literally on my couch one night — it was pretty late at night — and I was watching TV. My phone just started blowing up," he explains. "And I was like, 'what the hell is going on?' From there, people were sending me the article, and I was like, 'oh, okay, great.'"
Toran was especially surprised by the sudden praise for his looks because he hadn't been expecting Hey Arnold! fans to find him. During his stint on the show, he was credited as Toran Caudell, and, at the time that he became a 2015 viral sensation, he had just changed his professional name to Lane Toran. (He was born Lane Toran Caudell, if you're curious.) "I had literally just moved away from L.A. from the whole acting life and stuff and moved to North Carolina," he says. "... [So] it was actually overwhelming."
But don't think that Toran is, necessarily, upset by the attention. "It was great, though. It’s so cool interacting with these fans of the show and talk[ing] to them online," he says. However, he hasn't gone so far as to have internalized the compliments. You can think he's hot all you want, but he hasn't developed an ego about it. "Could you imagine if I was like ‘yeah, I totally think that of myself’? That’s so weird… Oh, god. No, I don’t see it like that at all. It’s actually more funny to me than anything."
Viral moments aside, Toran's relationship with his past as a Hey Arnold! voice actor is a good one. He attends conventions, he interacts with fans, and he speaks fondly of getting to see all the "memes and all the fan fiction... that we didn’t get to see when we were actually doing the show." To him, Hey Arnold! represents a kind of kids' show that we just don't get to see very often anymore.
"A lot of the [modern] cartoons, they’re so different than ‘90s cartoons in the way that it’s all very fast paced and loud noises. There’s no real storyline; it’s just a bunch of crap going on," he says. Which is partly why he's glad that Hey Arnold Jungle Movie is coming to introduce an entire new group of children to everything that made the show special. "It’s fun for younger generations to get a new take on how cartoons were in the ‘90s... Hey Arnold! has so many stories, real stories, and you learn stuff even if you didn’t realize it."
Toran is a self-proclaimed fan of the show, who claims that he didn't read any of the Hey Arnold Jungle Movie script but the pages his character was on so he could be surprised along with other fans. So much so that an unconventional Hey Arnold! episode has still touched him to this day: "Field Day." In the episode, Arnold's class visits an aquarium where he meets "terror of the deep," a giant sea turtle named Lockjaw. However, when Arnold sees Lockjaw, who is old, depressed, and so ill-cared for that his shell is covered in graffiti, he conspires with his grandmother to break the turtle out.
"I don’t remember exactly what Arnold said," Toran admits. "It was something along the lines of like ‘I got you’ or ‘I’m going to get you out of here’. But they had this moment. I’m a huge animal lover, so for me that was my favorite." Say it with me now: awww.
So, yeah, former Hey Arnold! voice actor Lane Toran is a regulation hottie now, and he knows that you think so. But he's so much more than that: a model, a musician, an animal lover, and a Hey Arnold! fan — probably a bigger fan than you are. If that just makes you crush on him even harder, you're not alone.