Comedian, actor and voice-over icon brought star power and improvisation-driven performance to the world of voice acting.
AWN was very saddened to learn of the death of comedian, actor and voice-over icon Robin Williams, as was widely reported, at the age of 63. He brought a then unheard-of star power to his role as Genie in Disney’s 1992 animated feature Aladdin, changing the very nature of voice acting with an improvisation-driven performance that helped create of the most beloved characters of all time.
Disney paid tribute to Williams on its official Twitter account with a GIF of Genie, captioning it, “He was a true Disney Legend, a beloved member of our family, and he will be sorely missed.”
"We had the thrill and privilege of directing Robin Williams in Aladdin," John Musker and Ron Clements said in a joint statement. "We wrote the part with him in mind, but his performance, complete with his brilliant, improvised flights of fancy, took us and the character far beyond what we had imagined. Robin’s genie defied space, time, and physics, and so did Robin’s talent. Like the genie it was immeasurable, thrilling, a cosmic explosion of wit and warmth. Robin brought magic into our lives, to his animator/other half, Eric Goldberg, and to the scores of artists who brought the genie to such vivid life on the screen. But, most of all, Robin’s magic touched millions of viewers who laughed and were moved by him. We will cherish the memory of this ever-giving man who made every life he touched, including our own, better."
"I am beyond devastated. I cannot express how influential and important Robin was, and will continue to be, to me and countless other animation artists," said Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for Aladdin. "Robin gave those of us who worked on the Genie so much humor, inspiration, and just sheer delight, that we were always spoiled for choice whenever we came back from a recording session. Like the Genie, Robin's immense talent could not be contained in the lamp. I think we all knew, as the world does now, if there was ever a person who was tailor-made for the medium of animation, it was Robin. We have lost not just a great voice, though. We have lost a warm, human, miraculous person whose numerous and amazing talents will continue to inspire people for generations upon generations."
In the course of his decades-long career, Williams surprised and delighted audiences with dozens of beloved characters, including a stint as Popeye in Robert Altman’s 1980 live-action feature, Batty Koda in 1992’s Fern Gully, and the penguins Lovelace and Ramon in 2006’s Happy Feet and the 2011 follow-up, Happy Feet Two.
To read more about Williams’ and his legacy in the world of animation, head over to animation historian Jerry Beck’s fantastic post, “Robin Williams Animated Legacy.”
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.