Smokey and Steamer
Character information
Gender Male
Born Sometime between 1920 and 1930
Primary wardrobe Greasy blue overalls
Age Not given. Likely late twenties to mid thirties
Occupation Polar Express fireman (Smokey)
Polar Express engineer (Steamer)
Songs It Takes Two (deleted)
Background information
Performed by Michael Jeter (voice)[1]
André Sogliuzzo (additional voice)
Appeared in The Film

Smokey and Steamer are twin brothers and the Polar Express' fireman and engineer. Steamer is short, fat, and bald while Smokey is tall, skinny, and has an extremely long red beard and hair.

Role in the Film

Smokey and Steamer are first seen at the front of the locomotive, fixing its headlamp (while facing a bit of difficulty). While doing so, they leave Hero Girl in charge of driving the train in the engine room. After the headlamp is fixed, Smokey catches sight of a light ahead on the tracks. Steamer sees it too and calls out to Hero Girl to stop the train. Hero Boy and Hero Girl get the message, but have trouble finding out which controls were the brakes. They eventually figure it out and stop the train just in time. When the train finally stops, Steamer finds himself face to face with a caribou.

A giant herd of caribou is blocking the tracks, which Steamer points out would take hours for it to clear due to there being a hundred thousand to a million. Hero Boy, Hero Girl, and the Conductor get to the front of the train to help with the situation. On the way, Hero Boy slips and grabs on to Smokey's beard to break his fall, causing Smokey to scream in pain. It is discovered that the caribou understand Smokey's screaming, so the Conductor continues to pull Smokey's beard to try to communicate with them. They eventually manage to get them to clear the tracks.

Smokey and Steamer go back to the engine room and get the train moving again. However, Steamer suddenly finds the throttle jammed and tries to fix it, though he forgets to notice how fast the train is going and cannot hear Hero Girl calling out to them to slow down. The cotter pin holding the throttle falls off and slips through the grate on the floor. As the train speeds down Glacier Gulch, the pin comes out of the grate and Steamer catches it in his mouth, but accidentally swallows it.

On the Ice Lake (where the ice had frozen over the tracks), Smokey gets the pin out of Steamer by hitting his back with a shovel, but pin flies out of the engine room and pierces the ice, causing it to fracture. With no other option, Smokey uses the pin from his hair to fix the throttle, allowing Steamer to stop the train. Suddenly, Hero Boy notices the crack in the ice getting bigger, prompting Smokey and Steamer to get the train off the lake with the Conductor navigating. They find the tracks on the other side of the lake, head toward them, and escape the cracking ice just in time.

Other appearances

The Polar Express: The Video Game

Smokey and Steamer appear in the video game, only in the third chapter. While Hero Girl is driving the train, something goes wrong, but Smokey and Steamer return to the engine room to fix it. They ask Hero Boy to help by catching the parts that fall off and tossing them back to them. Later, after the caribou clear the track, Hero Boy helps Smokey and Steamer get the train moving again.

Behind the scenes

Smokey and Steamer were originally voiced by Michael Jeter. However, he passed away before he could record all his lines, so André Sogliuzzo recorded the remaining dialogue and over most of his existing dialogue except for Steamer during the caribou scene.[2][3] According to animation supervisor David Schaub, Jeter would have also provided the motion-capture. However, this proved to be difficult due to the pair's difference in size and cartoony nature, so they were keyframe-animated instead, like the elves and most of the animals in the film.[1]

The producers had several ideas on where Smokey would get the second cotter pin to fix the throttle. One would have had a pin holding up his pants, which would drop the moment he took it off.[1]

Smokey and Steamer would have appeared in the deleted scene, "It Takes Two". The scene was cut for time when the producers decided the film would flow better without the scene. Taking place in the engine room after Hero Boy blows the whistle, the locomotive starts making strange sounds. Hero Girl tries to stop it by turning two controls, but to no avail. Luckily, Smokey and Steamer show up to put things right. When they ask what happened, Hero Girl explained what she did and Smokey and Steamer tell her the controls had to be turned simultaneously. Next, they break into a song about the importance of working together. This leaves Hero Girl confused, since she was in the engine room alone, but Smokey and Steamer point to Hero Boy. They ask what he is doing and he tells them about his experience with the Hobo, leaving them scared. They proceed to perform a shadow puppet show telling the story of the Hobo, who decided one Christmas Eve many years ago to ride the Polar Express the roof for free, but was killed when the train went through Flat Top Tunnel. Some say his ghost can still be seen riding the train every Christmas Eve. After that, they remember they have to fix the locomotive's headlight, so they leave the children in charge of driving the train.

International languages

Language Name Meaning Voice actor(s)
French Les Machinistes The Machinists Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu
Italian Fumino e Sbuffino Fumino and Sbuffino Mino Caprio
Japanese Sumōkī to Suchīmā Smokey and Steamer Takaki Nakao (Smokey)
Yusaku Yara (Steamer)
Spanish (Latin America) Smokey y Steamer Smokey and Steamer Moisés Palacios
Spanish (Spain) Smokey y Steamer Smokey and Steamer Aleix Estadella
Swedish Smokey och Steamer Smokey and Steamer Jan Modin (Smokey)
Göran Engman (Steamer)


  • Smokey and Steamer are two of several characters from the film to not appear in the book. While it can be certain someone is driving the train, it is never revealed who.
  • Smokey and Steamer are two of few characters to have their names revealed in the movie, though this only occurred in the credits. However, they mention their names, as well as themselves being twins (which is never revealed in the film at all), in the deleted scene, "It Takes Two".
  • While Steamer is the engineer and Smokey the fireman in the film, this is reversed in the video game.
  • In the Lionel set produced for the film in 2004, Smokey's figure lacks a beard of any kind, likely to keep production costs down.


  • "Here us the light." - Smokey
  • "I got it" - Steamer
  • "Hold Still" - Steamer
  • "Look" - Smokey
  • "What" - Steamer
  • "Stop the train! Stop the train!" - Steamer
  • "Caribou?"- Steamer
  • "I make that heard to be at least a hundred thousand. Maybe even a million. It's gonna be hours before they clear this track!" - Steamer
  • "A tough nut to crack." - Smokey
  • "And a jam." - Steamer
  • "Tight spot." - Smokey
  • "Up a creek. Up a tree. Lost in the grass. I'll tell you what's grass: our a--" Smokey and Steamer
  • "Jumping jeepers! The cotter pin's sheered off!" - Steamer
  • "The pin!"
  • "where?" - Smokey
  • "There" - Steamer
  • "Oh, no!"
  • "Whoa! The pin!"



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Schaub, David (November 15, 2005). "'The Polar Express Diary': Part 4 -- Keyframe Animation". Animation World Network. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  2. André Sogliuzzo on Twitter (October 1, 2020). Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  3. "Trivia / The Polar Express". TV Tropes. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
Children: Hero Boy (Chris) Hero Girl (Holly) Know-It-All Billy the Lonely Boy Sister Sarah Gus the Toothless Boy Boy on Train Red Head Girl Little Boy Young Boy Steven Unnamed Kids
Adults: Conductor Hobo Smokey and Steamer Santa Claus Pastry Chefs Waiters Hero Boy's Parents
Elves: Elves Acrobatic Elves Elf General Elf Lieutenant Elf Singer
Animals: Caribou Santa Claus' Reindeer
Toys: Ebenezer Scrooge Puppet Scrooge's Friends
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