If you pick up the just-released Diamond edition of Ron Clements and John Musker’s animated classic Aladdin, out now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere, you’ll get a host of delicious behind-the-scenes treats, and one very special feature that hasn’t been available anywhere else before: Robin Williams deleted scenes, animated especially for this release. They are truly incredible; when we saw them a few weeks ago we were crying from laughing so hard (and we might have been crying a little bit from missing Williams, too). It’s an emotional tour de force, boiled down to seven minutes of scenes, jokes and interludes that you can tell juuuuuuuuust missed the final cut.
We sat down with Eric Goldberg, the animator who brought the Genie to life (both then and now), to talk about these missing moments and how it all came together.
“It was emotional but it was wonderful,” Goldberg said of the process. “Ron and John and I had always known that there were these great outtakes that never made it into the film. And we always wanted to do things with them.” This wasn’t the first time animating these sequences was proposed: “Back in 2003 when the DVD came out, we proposed an idea where we’d make it the Genie’s audition where he’s auditioning for the role of Genie. And we can use a lot of these outtakes. You could hear Ron and John in the booth and the punch line was, ‘Oh and all that ad lib stuff? Don’t do that anymore. Nobody’s going to use it.’ But we never got a chance to do it.”
Still, the untimely passing of Williams meant that these deleted scenes wouldn’t simply be a curiosity for fans, but rather a living memorial and testament to his talent and all that he brought to the role of the Genie. “Flash forward and sadly Robin passes away and the idea comes up again and they decided to do this as a tribute. Ron and John told John Lasseter about it and he was all for it, although he didn’t go for the audition idea, he said, ‘Let’s really make it outtakes.’”
Thus began the process. “What I did was I listened to the more than 16 hours of all of Robin Williams’ takes, some of which I’m the only owner of. And pulled what I thought was the funniest stuff and started whittling down and whittling down. One thing that made it great as a tribute to Robin, and partially sold John Lasseter on the idea, too, is that part of Robin’s genius was that he could give you countless variations on just one line.” After Goldberg snuck away to show us the footage (long before the official release), he still seemed invigorated by the experience of animating Williams again. “It took such a long time to sift through all that stuff but it was such a gift. My first version was 15 minutes long and I had to whittle it down to about seven. What a range the guy had!” What a range indeed!
Aladdin is now available on Blu-ray, Digital HD, and Disney Movies Anywhere.