Esa Matti Saario (born November 22, 1931 Nummi, Finland) is a Finnish actor. He started studying in Helsinki Theatre Academy in 1956. The headmaster of the academy, Wilho Ilmari, and other teachers allowed Saario to skip one year of school due to Saario's giftedness. Saario ended up graduating in only two years.
Saario worked as an actor for the Finnish National Theatre from 1958 until his retirement in 1997. The first role he played was in 1954 and the last in 2001. Saario performed in over 200 different roles during his career. Some of his most memorable roles on stage were Orgon in Tartuffe, Malcolm in Macbeth, actor/priest in Hamlet and Amiens in As You Like It.
Saario has also played in multiple radio dramas broadcast by the Finnish National broadcaster Yleisradio. His radio drama roles include Police officer Karhunen (Fin. Poliisi Karhunen) in Noita Nokinenä, Marvin in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and several roles in The Men from the Ministry.
Some of Saario's most famous cinema roles are politician Janne Kivivuori in the movies Here, Beneath the North Star and Akseli and Elina. Saario's first roles on screen were seen in the movies Sven Tuuva the Hero and Kankkulan Kaivolla.
In the beginning of 1960s Saario recorded many children's songs, such as "Hottentottilaulu", together with actress Maikki Länsiö. Hottentottilaulu is originally a Norwegian children's song called Visen om vesle Hoa. It was translated into Finnish by Jukka Virtanen.
Saario was also a member of the Finnish Actor Union (Finnish: Suomen Näyttelijäliitto, Swedish: Finlands Skådespelarförbund).
- Magic Mirror (1982 dub), Narrator (1994 dub) - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- Jock (1984 dub) - Lady and the Tramp
- King Gregor - Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears
- Sykes - Oliver and Company
- Igor, Narrator - Count Duckula
- King Triton - The Little Mermaid
- Narrator - Beauty and the Beast
- Taurus Bulba - Darkwing Duck
- Sir Ector (1993 dub), Narrator (1993 dub) - The Sword in the Stone
- Shere Khan (1993 dub) - The Jungle Book
- Mufasa - The Lion King
- Napoleon (1994 dub), Cyril (1994 dub), Edgar (1994 dub) - The Aristocats
- Narrator, King Hubert - Sleeping Beauty
- Danny - 101 Dalmatians
- Zeus - Hercules
- Narrator, Dallben - The Black Cauldron
- Yar - Dinosaur
- King Kashekim Nedakh - Atlantis: The Lost Empire
- Henry J. Waternoose III - Monsters Inc
- Narrator - Peter Pan: Return to Neverland
- Billy Bones - Treasure Planet
- Narrator - The Cat Returns