Twenty-three years after its release (has it been that long?), Disney’s animate film Aladdin is getting the Blu-ray treatment. And that gives us an excuse to look at some of the workings that went on behind the scenes to bring us the story of Aladdin, Jasmine, and especially the Genie. On most movie projects, actors audition for a role, but with Aladdin, Disney had to impress Robin Williams to convince him to do the movie.
1. TO LAND ROBIN WILLIAMS, THE ANIMATORS CREATED TEST SEQUENCES OF THE GENIE PERFORMING THE COMEDIAN'S STAND-UP ROUTINES.
Eric Goldberg led the team of animators who were in charge of creating Genie. When he was first handed the script by co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker, Goldberg was also told to dig up some old Robin Williams comedy albums. “John and Ron said, 'Pick a couple of sections from his comedy albums and animate a genie to them,'" Goldberg told Entertainment Weekly. "That’s essentially what I did." Williams came in to see the test, and, Goldberg says, "I think what probably sold him was the one where he says, 'Tonight, let’s talk about the serious subject of schizophrenia—No, it doesn’t!—Shut up, let him talk!' What I did is animate the Genie growing another head to argue with himself, and Robin just laughed. He could see the potential of what the character could be. I’m sure it wasn’t the only factor, but then he signed the dotted line."
3. ALADDIN MARKED THE END OF VOICE ACTORS IN DISNEY MUSICALS NEEDING TO BE MAGNIFICENT SINGERS.
Linda Larkin was the voice of Princess Jasmine. However, she never sang a single note attributed to the princess; that was done by singer Lea Salonga. Aladdin marked one of the first times a voice actor in a Disney musical didn’t also have to be a magnificent singer. Larkin says that this was the result of the film being built around Robin Williams, who was such a powerful force that Disney's priority was finding strong actors who could keep pace with him. "They came to me and asked, 'Do you sing?'" Larkin recalled. "And I said, 'I do … but not like a princess!' And they said, 'No problem, we’ll find a singer to match your voice.' And they did. And to me it’s such an amazing match to my voice that it’s almost seamless when they go from dialogue to the song and back to dialogue. And you see what happened … from that point forward that opened up the world of Disney animation to everybody. They no longer needed actors who sang.”
There’s lots more interesting things you can learn about Aladdin, at mental_floss.