"He Was My Hero, That Guy" — Cast Members of "Aladdin" Film and Musical Remember Robin Williams

News   "He Was My Hero, That Guy" — Cast Members of "Aladdin" Film and Musical Remember Robin Williams
 
The 1992 Disney film "Aladdin," featuring late famed actor and comic Robin Williams as the voice of The Genie, was recently released on special edition Blu-ray disk, and cast members from the film and Broadway musical gathered in New York City to celebrate. They shared their thoughts on working with and drawing inspiration from the late comedian.

When Scott Weinger was cast as the voice of Aladdin in Disney's "Aladdin," he did not realize that it was going to be a big deal. What he did know, however, was that he was going to have to find a way to keep his cool around his personal hero, Robin Williams.

"He was my hero, that guy. I loved him. I had a poster of him on my wall from 'Dead Poets Society!' To try to be cool and work with him — just act like it was no big deal — he knew I was freaking out," said Weinger. He added that Williams was incredibly generous and patient with him, and that working with him on the film will always stick out in his mind as one of his favorite memories.

Gilbert Gottfried, who voiced Iago the parrot, knew Williams from the comedy world long before the film and said they performed together on stage a few times. However, the two comedians never shared a studio during recording.

He explained, "See, this is the funniest thing… I don't know how many stories I've heard of people saying, 'Oh, God. When Gilbert Gottfried and Robin Williams were in the same studio — that was mayhem…' We never even ran into each other during the making of the film. I knew him from the comedy clubs. We'd bump into each other all the time, and in fact we even would go on stage together a few times… We would improvise."

Jonathan Freeman, who provided a voice for the villainous Jafar (and later brought the character to life onstage), remembers Williams for his improvisational skills.

He said, "It was fascinating to see him work, and he was a lovely, kind, generous man. He was a gentleman. There were a couple of times when I was looking at the page thinking, 'I don't know if I should jump in or not' because once he was on a roll it was A: terrific to watch and B: you wouldn't want to wreck anything! Sometimes he'd get on a roll, and I'd be afraid to jump in with a line because I didn't want to wreck a take that seemed like it was so hysterical, and ultimately they'd pick and choose what they wanted anyway. It was a great experience, and I'm sorry we didn't have more days because I felt that it was informative."

James Monroe Iglehart, the actor who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the Genie on Broadway, remembers Williams' performance from his childhood.

"He is always going to be the quintessential Genie," said Iglehart. "What's fun about what we get to do [on Broadway] is…something different because then I knew I didn't have to step into Robin's shoes. I didn't have to try to repeat what he did, but also the man's a legend, so to try to repeat what he did would be ridiculous."

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