I was driving to meet some friends for dinner when I heard of the passing of Robin Williams on the radio at around 4:40pm. I was completely shocked and immediately thought of his roles with Disney. One of my favorites, is, of course, Genie from “Aladdin.”
I was 11 when Aladdin was released in 1992. I remember seeing it in theaters and immediately fell in love with it. Why? Because of Robin Williams’ role as the Genie. His comedic timing was truly seen in this film. Directors/Producers/Co-Writers Ron Clements and John Musker wrote the Genie part with Wiliams in mind. Williams hesitated at first, so a reel of Williams’ standup tied to the Genie’s animation was created. It was while Williams saw it, that he laughed and agreed to the project.
I’m glad he agreed to voice the Genie because I can’t think of anyone else who could have done such a brilliant job. He made it seem so flawless. It was almost as if Williams went to Disney and said “Hey! If you can create a character for me, I would be glad to do it.”
In the movie, we see all the emotions the Genie goes through. From happiness when he was released from the lamp to sadness when he realized he was leaving Aladdin behind at the end of the movie. The mix of emotions portrayed by Williams in Aladdin allows us to have those same kinds of emotions. The Genie allows us to dream, laugh, cry and think about life in general.
Dream because all Genie wants is to be free. He imagines what life would be like if he could be himself and not be anyone’s master yet again after three wishes. Laugh because of the different people he becomes in a short period of time. Cry because of leaving his friend Aladdin behind to live his own life and see the world. And think about like in general because life is about making the right choices.
Sharing his thoughts with D23, Eric Goldberg, supervising animator for the Genie in Aladdin, said “I cannot express how influential and important Robin was, and will continue to be, to me and countless other animation artists. Robin gave those of us who worked on the Genie so much humor, inspiration, and sheer delight… Like the Genie, Robin’s immense talent could not be contained in the lamp…”
I have to agree with Eric Goldberg on this. Robin Williams’ talent really does go beyond the lamp. There are so many other roles that Williams has portrayed over the years, but for me, it’s his role as Genie that will continue to remain a favorite of mine. I think it’s because we can all be like the Genie. Yes granting people three wishes may be a bit tough, but just being able to be ourselves says a lot about what the Genie is trying to do. While he may portray other actors and historical figures in such a short time, we are told that we can be who we want to be and that nothing and no one can or should keep us from achieving that.
Thank you Robin for bringing us a little bit of your humor, warmth, and inspiration. We have never had a friend like you