Following the passing of iconic comedian Gilbert Gottfried, there’s been an outpouring of love for the beloved comic’s comic most memorable moments. As there should be. Examples include his roast performances, of course, as well as his epic trolling of Hollywood Squares contestants, and his scene-stealing lines as the wise-cracking parrot Iago in Disney’s Aladdin. About that last one: While the Disney classic already had Robin Williams in the cast, co-directors John Musker and Ron Clements quickly realized they needed an “opening act” before Williams’ Genie arrives 40 minutes into the film. Enter Gottfried.
Musker and Clements revealed in a new interview that the famously raunchy comic was their first choice and used his scene from Beverly Hills Cop II as part of their pitch to then-Disney president Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg was not a fan of Gottfried’s voice, but the directors still pushed through and brought the comedian in for an audition. Gottfried turned out to be such a hit that, like Williams, he was allowed to improvise during the recording sessions, and many of his unscripted lines made it into the film. Others, however, have yet to see the light of day. For good reasons. Via The Ringer:
“The makers of Aladdin were very open to have me improvise,” Gottfried said in a Reddit AMA in 2016. “They gave me a lot of freedom but often they would have to stop and go, ‘Gilbert, this is a family film.’”
“I think there were things locked away,” Clements says with a laugh. “There were things with Robin, too. In terms of recording sessions, they tend to be loose and freewheeling. I think Gilbert had a lot of fun doing it.”
Here’s the part where you might want to sit down. While Gottfried’s first audition turned out to be a smash success and sparked some of Iago’s most memorable lines, Musker and Clements were not prepared for the first time Gottfried started recording without his iconic “voice” — because it’s not real.
“I don’t hear Gilbert anywhere,” Clements recalled. “Where’s Gilbert? We didn’t quite realize until then that that voice is actually put on. It’s a character.”
Obviously, Gottfried slipped into his trademark voice for the final product, but now you know how dedicated he was to comedy that his entire persona was a bit. Who even has the discipline to pull off that anymore? Nobody.
(Via The Ringer)