Here’s How This Aladdin Animator Turned Robin Williams’ Genie Outtakes Into Something Timeless
Aladdin stands out among Disney’s beloved animated features as being a game-changer for the studio, thanks in part to Robin Williams’ madcap performance as the Genie.
The late comedian was so spontaneous in the recording booth, that directors Ron Clements and John Musker, along with legendary animator Eric Goldberg, tailored many of the Genie’s most memorable scenes around Williams’ hilarious riffs. Of course, not all of Williams’ zingers made the final cut. So as a very special tribute to the comedian, Goldberg personally sifted through all of Williams’ outtakes and animated a few of his favorites for the Aladdin: Diamond Edition Blu-ray, out now.
“It brought back a lot of wonderful memories,” Goldberg told MTV News at Disney’s D23 Expo in August. “I remember being at those sessions, and I remember hearing those takes, and I remember going through all of the transcripts of Robin’s recordings, and myself and John [Musker] and Ron [Clements] picking the ones that made us laugh the most. It’s bittersweet. You listen to it, and you laugh. You just think, ’Oh my God. That’s funny.’ And you realize, too, that it’s somewhat sad that he’s no longer with us.”
When it was released in 1992, Aladdin introduced us to a whole new world of enchantment, one where a talking Genie could grant you three wishes and a magic carpet could take you on the ride of your life. But the magic of “Aladdin” truly lies in Williams’ performance, and the timeless humor he brought to the Disney classic.
“But this really is a tribute to that legacy of laughter that he left us,” the Genie animator added. “One of the most endearing things about Robin was that he broke himself up when he was recording things, and I didn’t really realize it until I did this project, and I had the headphones on. With every take, there was a sense of, ’I can’t believe I said this and it’s going to be in a Disney movie.’ And that kind of fun irreverence was part of Robin’s charm. It was part of who he was, and his delight in amusing people—that warmth comes through. This whole thing is a celebration of everything that Robin was.”
Goldberg storyboarded a whole new sequence using Williams’ hilarious outtakes, which have never been seen before, and you can watch some of them come to life in the video below:
“One of my great animation heroes, Chuck Jones, who’s legendary for doing the Looney Tunes characters, when he saw Aladdin, he allowed a quote, ’This is the funniest animated movie ever made’—Chuck Jones. And that’s pretty high praise from someone like him,” Goldberg said. “There’s plenty of things that are funny, but this film was unique, and to John and Ron’s credit, they push the envelope. They let it be as broad and as crazy and as free-wheeling as it could possibly be because they always conceive their films as to what works best in animation. The Genie is a great animation character because one of the stocking traits of animation is metamorphosis, and what does the Genie do but morph into a million different characters?”
Like the song says, we ain’t never had a friend like him.