Robin Williams

“They crossed the line”: Before Will Smith, Disney Betrayed Robin Williams With a $7.92M Pay Cut

With time, Disney has introduced various characters, but some characters make a lasting impact on the audience. Talking about Disney’s animated series, the voice behind our favorite characters plays a significant role in bringing them to life.

Robin Williams’ voice behind the famous Disney creature Genie is something that goes hand in hand. Williams’ indeed aced Genie’s character, yet Disney failed to make a lasting bond with the super-talented actor. The relationship between Williams and Disney soured when Disney broke an agreement that enraged the actor.

Robin Williams voiced the character of Genie in Aladdin (1992).
Robin Williams voiced the character of Genie in Aladdin (1992).

Why did Robin Williams decide to break his bond with Walt Disney?

In 1992, Disney released a classic animated film, which had a blast at the box office. Disney’s Aladdin was one such film that is still remembered by many. The reason behind its massive success was American actor and comedian Robin Williams.

The actor gave his voice to Genie, a very prominent character in the film. Williams was so good at his craft of voice-over that he stole the show. So it can be said that Williams has made a great contribution to making Aladdin a classic.

Willaims dealt so well with the character of Genie that it was indeed hard to imagine Geinie in someone else’s voice. However, this magic of Geine’s voice didn’t last long, as Williams decided to break his bond with Walt Disney.

Initially, the screen time of Genie was very short in the 1992 film, as the makers thought his presence wouldn’t be of much significance; however, after Williams entered the recording booth, that perception drastically changed. The actor recorded 30 hours of dialogue, and he even improvised it. Williams’ work was well appreciated by the makers of the film, yet the feud between Williams and Disney was unavoidable.

Robin Williams
Robin Williams

During an interview, Williams revealed the reason why he decided to part ways with Disney. The actor shared that before signing the film, he made a strict agreement with Disney that he didn’t want his voice to be involved in any sort of merchandising. But Disney had other plans that went against its pact with Willaims.

Just to ensure that his voice won’t be used for selling any products, he accepted to be paid less for the role. The actor received a paycheck of $75,000. The actor would have easily made $8 million from the film if he had used his voice for product sales. But the actor stood firm on his notion, yet it turned out to be futile as Disney did what it wished to do. The actor said,

“Then all of a sudden, they release an advertisement–one part was the movie, the second part was where they used the movie to sell stuff. Not only did they use my voice, they took a character I did and overdubbed it to sell stuff. That was the one thing I said: ‘I don’t do that.’ That was the one thing where they crossed the line.” The actor and comedian wouldn’t work with them again unless they apologized for their wrongdoing. “You realize when you work for Disney why the mouse has only four fingers — because he can’t pick up a check.”

The feud went on for a few years, as Disney never made a straight apology to the actor. Since the actor refused to work with Disney until they issued an apology to him, Disney replaced the actor with Dan Castellaneta. Castellaneta was good at his work yet could match the magic of Willaims voice.

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