30 curiosities about Aladdin
- John Candy, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Martin Short, John Goodman, and Albert Brooks were all considered at one point to provide the voice of the Genie.
- Voice actor Frank Welker provided the chattering sounds of Abu, just as he did for the Nazi monkey in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and TV’s Curious George. He also voices Scooby-Doo.
- In early character sketches, Aladdin resembled Michael J. Fox. However, Disney honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg suggested they make Aladdin into more of a “hunk,” by aging him from 13 to 18 and taking off his shirt. Their new inspiration: Tom Cruise and Calvin Klein models.
- Jasmine was partly modeled after “The Rocketeer" star Jennifer Connelly.
- No surprise that Jafar was based on Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. Like her, he carries a staff, has a bird henchman, and transforms into a giant animal in the film’s big showdown.
- The design of Jafar was inspired by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld’s work. Although he wasn’t a big Disney fan, Hirschfeld approved of Aladdin.
- Danny DeVito and Joe Pesci both passed on voicing lago the parrot. The role went to future Aflac spokesman Gilbert Gottfried.
- As revealed on the Platinum Edition DVD, animator Glen Keane studied MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This" to help animate Aladdin’s pants.
- Linda Larkin, who voices Princess Jasmine, was nearly fired and had to re-audition for the role halfway into the film after Katzenberg thought she didn’t sound “regal” enough.
- Film critics Siskel and Ebert refused to allow their likenesses to give would-be suitor Prince Achmed a thumbs down in the film, so directors Ron Clements and John Musker put in caricatures of themselves instead.
- Once upon a time, Aladdin had a mother, to whom he sang, “Proud of Your Boy.” But she was cut and so was the song. However, it resurfaced on the 2004 Special DVD Edition DVD with a music video by Clay Aiken. The other cut songs can be found on the four-CD set “The Music Behind the Magic”.
- The first part of the “Prince Ali" song is remarkably similar to "To Life" from "Fiddler on the Roof."
- You’ve probably heard the rumor that when Aladdin is on Jasmine’s balcony, he says, “Take off your clothes.” However, he is talking to Rajah the tiger and actually says, “Good kitty, take off and go, go on.” The dialogue was changed to “Down, kitty” on the DVD.
- Williams’s morphing genie owes a lot to Bugs Bunny. As he told Jules Feiffer in a 1996 interview, “I [was] basically mak[ing] a Warner Brothers cartoon in Disney drag… like where all of a sudden Bugs is with James Cagney, or he’s running from Peter Lorre. That’s why, in Aladdin, I did Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro and William F. Buckley. I threw in everything. I think they just wanted me to do a straight voice, but the first day I said, ‘Can I try something?’ And they said, ‘Oh, all right.’”
- Williams improvised 16 hours of material in his recording sessions. The Academy reportedly turned down the script for Best Adapted Screenplay consideration because so much of it was improvised.
- Williams agreed to voice the Genie at union scale rate (which came to $75,000) on the condition that his voice not be used for merchandising and that the Genie not take up more than 25 percent of any advertising. The Genie became the most popular character and Disney violated the agreement. A furious Williams refused to promote the film and was replaced in the direct-to-video sequel The Return of Jafar by “The Simpsons” Dan Castellaneta. Disney CEO Michael Eisner bought Williams an original Picasso as an apology, which Williams refused. But it wasn’t until Katzenberg was fired that Williams accepted a public apology made by new studio head Joe Roth. Williams returned for the second sequel and went on to do several other Disney features.
- One of the reasons Williams didn’t want to emphasize his involvement in the film was he also had the holiday movie “Toys" coming out. It ended up tanking with a mere $23 million to Aladdin's $217 million.
- Before the bad blood, Disney was considering mounting a Best Supporting Oscar campaign for WIlliams, despite the Academy’s rules about not considering voice-only work.
- WIlliams also voiced the street merchant at the beginning of the film, who was originally going to be revealed as being the Genie in disguise. ”People in previews saw Jasmine and Aladdin kiss and started getting up,” Clements told EW, so the reveal was cut.
- While working on Aladdin, Williams reportedly received calls from his Hook director Steven Spielberg, who was filming Schindler’s List and needed cheering up.
- Arabic Americans took offense to the line “where they cut off your ear, if they don’t like your face,” in the opening song “Arabian Nights”, so the lyric was changed to “where it’s flat and immense, and the heat is intense.”
- In the preview screenings, no one clapped after the songs, so the animators added an “Applause” sign at the end of “Friend Like Me”. It worked and the sign stayed in the movie.
- Sure, you spotted Pinocchio, but did you also spot the Beast (He’s one of the animal figures the Sultan is stacking) or Sebastian from The Little Mermaid? (The genie pulls him out from a cookbook.) There’s also a hidden Mickey head when the tiger kitten transforms, if you freeze frame.
- The Goofy hat and Hawaiian shirt that the Genie wears at the end of the film is a nod to Williams’s wardrobe in a short he did for the Disney/MGM Studios tour in the late ’80s.
- Scott Weinger, who voiced Aladdin, told one story so many times — of how Williams made him laugh so hard that he fell off his chair — that he couldn’t remember if it had really happened or not. But as he says on this podcast, “In the DVD extras, you actually see it happen, so that’s pretty cool.”
- Alan Menken won two Oscars for his work on Aladdin, one for his original score and the other for his music on “A Whole New World”.
- When the film was first released on VHS in 1993, Aladdin sold a whopping 25 million copies.
- The opening scene with the street merchant was completely unscripted. Robin Williams was brought into the sound stage and was asked to stand behind a table that had several objects on it and a bed sheet covering them all. The animators asked him to lift the sheet, and without looking take an object from the table and describe it in character. Much of the material in that recording session was not appropriate for a Disney film.
- The artists videotaped capuchin monkeys at the Los Angeles Zoo to give them an understanding of the physical characteristics of Abu.
- An IMAX version was planned but never released.
Sources: Moviefone, Geeks of Doom and IMDb