A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege and honor to attend a special event in which legendary animator Eric Goldberg talked about bringing the Genie from Aladdin to life. I almost died. I couldn’t have never dreamed of adding something this incredible to my Disney Bucket List, but it happened, and let me tell you, it was one of my favorite Disney days… ever. (And I’ve had some pretty spectacular opportunities.)
When we arrived at the Disney Studio, I made sure to be first in the room so that I could sit right up front. Then he began to tell the tale of how the Genie came to be the Genie that we all know in love and here starts our list of things you probably don’t know about the movie Aladdin by way of the one-and-only Eric Goldberg.
1. Animated movies have a “color script.” In Aladdin, the good characters are cool shades of blue–the Genie is blue, Aladdin’s vest is purple and Jasmine’s outfit was turquoise. The bad characters are reds and darks. The color script sublimely “tells” audiences how they should feel about the characters.
2. When Goldberg joined the Aladdin team, most animators were still on Beauty and the Beast, although the curvy, Arabian backgrounds were already in production. They were exaggerated and “Hollywood-esque” and he knew he would have to come up with a Genie that could compete with the curvy backgrounds; he would have to be equally as curvy with a lot of S-curves. He turned to the work of artist Al Hirshfeld. Hirshfeld’s caricatures are legendary and if you take a quick gander at his work, you will definitely see his influence in how the Genie looks on screen.
3. The part of the Genie was specifically written for Robin Williams, in his “voice,” before he was even cast for the part.
4. Before they presented the part of the Genie to Robin Williams, Goldberg animated pencils sketches of the Genie to some of Williams’ comedy routines. (And Williams laughed.) I’m sorry the clip is so short.
5. When the “Friend Like Me” scene was shown to early preview audiences, an “unnamed ” Disney executive was upset that the audience didn’t applaud at the end of the musical number, and told the animators they “had to do something” about it. So, what did Goldberg do? He added the neon applause sign you now see at the end of that number!
6. Williams did four 4-hour sessions of voice over recording for the Genie. There was so much wonderful material, and of course, not all of it could make it into the movie. For the new home video release of Aladdin, Goldberg listened through all 16 hours of audio to come up with a wonderful movie extra call “The Genie’s Outtakes.” If you love Robin Williams (and if you are a fan of this blog, you know he has a piece of my heart), you are going to love this very special bonus feature.
Aladdin is available on Disney Movies on Anywhere now and will be available on DVD starting October 13. If it has been a while since you’ve soaked in a some Genie, do yourself a favor and grab the family and watch Aladdin together as soon as possible. You’ll be so glad you did.
I simply adore Aladdin, and if you click here, you can read my post about my very favorite I Aladdin memories–including the conclusion of my Eric Goldberg experience.