Last Friday, Good Morning America had a special interview with original cast members of Aladdin, celebrating the re-release on DVD and Blu-Ray in America. But the main topic of conversation was all about Robin Williams. For this special edition, Disney have added never-before-seen out-takes of Robin, in the recording booth, as he voices The Genie.
Some of the cast had fond memories, which they shared, of working with Robin. The iconic character of The Genie was brought to life by supervising animator Eric Goldberg. “Aside from him being funny as anything, he was such a warm, person,” Goldberg said about Robin.
“Oh it was amazing working with Robin. Absolutely incredible,” Alan Menken, the film’s songwriter said on “GMA.”
“Yeah, we wrote the part with Robin in mind,” John Musker, one of the films writer/directors added. “We didn’t know if he would do it. And fortunately for us, he did. We were totally walking down the plank. If he said no, we were going to be in big trouble because the whole concept was built around Robin.”
“Fortunately he agreed to do it, and he worked so hard,” Ron Clements, who also wrote and directed the film, recalled. “We would record in four-hour sessions. He would be going four hours straight. We would have practically four hours of recording and by the end he was just drenched. He would have so much energy and so much passion.”
I recently read an interesting fact on imdb, in order to convince Williams to do the role, Eric Goldberg animated the Genie doing several minutes of Williams’s stand-up routines, including parts from his album ‘Reality… What A Concept’, and screened it for him. Williams was so impressed that he signed almost immediately!
Watching this interview got me thinking about when I first watched Aladdin and heard the voice of Genie for the first time. You can’t imagine anyone else playing that role, can you? I mean don’t get me wrong the film is fantastic, and the music is superb. But it wouldn’t be the same film without Robin Williams as the Genie, wouldn’t it? For me, he steals the film. Me and my family have always been massive fans of the actor, and I must admit, knowing at the time, that Robin Williams was in it, that encouraged me to want to see it even more!
And being a massive fan of film, there was a lot of the jokes that Genie did, which were obviously aimed at adults, but I got them. For example, when the Genie turns into Jack Nicholson: “All right, Sparky, here’s the deal. If you wanna court the little lady, you gotta be a straight shooter. Do ya got it?” I got that when I was a kid, but not a lot of kids back then would have, if they didn’t watch a lot of movies.
Plus, “Friend like me” would definitely not have been the same song, Robin Williams adds so much character to that song, and it’s because of him its one of the best songs in the film.
Since Robin Williams voiced the Genie, famous movie stars voicing a character or characters, became the norm. For example, James Earl Jones as Mufasa (The Lion King), Mel Gibson as John Smith (Pocahontas), Demi Moore as Esmarelda (Hunchback of Notre Dame), Eddie Murphy as Mushu (Mulan), Glenn Close as Kala (Tarzan), and so on. Now James Earl Jones has a very destinctive voice, everyone knows it’s Darth Vader and Mufasa. But some of the other movie stars, didn’t really give a performance that you would think “no one else could do that voice”. They weren’t as memorable. And yet, everyone remembers that it was Robin Williams who voiced the Genie.
It’s so sad that Robin Williams passed away last year. He starred in a lot of my favourite films in the 90s. Do you remember Hook? And who could forget Mrs. Doubtfire. There was the heartwarming story, Jack, and Patch Adams. Oh my mums favourite is Birdcage. There was Disney’s Flubber (I still have a Flubber MBB that giggles!). Oh my god and Jumanji – I went to the cinema to see that, oh it was so good!
He certainly left us with great memories, and great films, and one of Disney’s iconic characters, The Genie.
“I’m history. No, I’m mythology. Nah, I don’t care what I am, I’m free!” – The Genie
Originally posted OCT 13TH 2015 on previous website