The Voice Cast of Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Then and Now
After the success of ‘Beauty and the Beast‘ Disney took a break from the European fairy tales and based its next film on the most well-known story from the ‘Arabian Nights.’ It was a move that paid off big time — ‘Aladdin’ became the highest grossing animated film to date. The movie was the final collaboration between composer Alan Menken and his late lyricist Howard Ashman and – for good or for ill – ushered in an era of big name movie stars voicing Disney characters.
It’s been over 20 years since ‘Aladdin’ arrived in theaters and we’re taking a look at what the voice actors from the film are up to today.
Scott Weinger, Aladdin
Then: Weinger had recurring roles on the TV shows ‘Life Goes On.’ His long-term stint on ‘Full House’ as D.J.’s boyfriend Steve Hale had just started when ‘Aladdin’ premiered.
Now: He’s continued to voice Aladdin in the TV series, the direct-to-video sequels and other Disney productions. More recently, Weinger has been focusing on writing, penning episodes of ‘What I like About You’ and the recent version of ‘90210,’ on which he has a producing credit.
Linda Larkin, Princess Jasmine
Then: Larkin had done guest appearances on ‘Murder, She Wrote’ and ‘Doogie Howser, M.D.’ in 1991, but was pretty much an unknown actress before Disney made her a princess.
Now: Post ‘Aladdin,’ she has been in some supporting roles in movies and TV and is in ‘Adam Shaw,’ a thriller due out sometime this year. Her latest performance as Princess Jasmine can be heard in the XBox 360 game ‘Kinect Disneyland Adventures.’
Robin Williams, The Genie
Then: The former ‘Mork and Mindy’ star had already won acclaim for his film roles in films like ‘Good Morning, Vietnam,’ ‘Dead Poets Society,’ ‘Awakenings’ and ‘The Fisher King.’ He was one of the first big name movie stars of the modern era to voice a Disney character. The character of the Genie was written with him in mind.
Now: After three nominations, Williams finally won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in ‘Good Will Hunting.’ His relationship with Disney has been a rocky one and Dan “voice of Homer Simpson” Castellaneta has stepped in to play the Genie for periods of time. Williams has continued to play both comedic and dramatic roles and the occasional voice acting job. He’s set to star in the film ‘The Angriest Man in Brooklyn’ due out in 2013 as well as the David E. Kelley pilot ‘Crazy Ones.’
Jonathan Freeman, Jafar
Then: Freeman got his start in musical theater. Prior to playing the evil royal vizier, he had a regular role on ‘Shining Time Station’ voicing and puppeteering Tito Swing.
Now: Freeman continues to show up in film and television, including a HBO TV movie about the 2008 financial crisis. He’s returned to the theater and reprised his role as Jafar in the stage adaptation of ‘Aladdin.’
Douglas Seale, The Sultan
Then: His acting career began onstage in 1934. Among his numerous onscreen roles were Count Arco in ‘Amadeus’ and Santa Claus in ‘Ernest Saves Christmas.’ He had also done voice work for Disney before, playing an irritable koala in ‘The Rescuers Down Under.’
Now: Playing the Sultan was kind of a last hurrah for Seale, who died seven years after ‘Aladdin’ premiered. Prior to his passing, he appeared in the Michael J. Fox movie ‘For Love or Money’ and the video game ‘Phantasmagoria.’
Gilbert Gottfried, Iago
Then: Gottfried began his career as a stand-up comedian before landing on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1980. His film appearances included a supporting role in ‘Problem Child,’ which he played again in the sequel.
Now: Iago kicked off a career in voice acting for Gottfried, who’s been everything from Superman’s nemesis Mr. Mxyzptlk to the Aflac Duck. He stirred up controversy with an ill-timed 9/11 joke and a series of tweets about the Japnese earthquake and tsunamis, the latter of which lost him his job with Aflac. He’s currently part of Team Rachael on Food Network’s ‘Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off’ and can be seen on YouTube applying his signature grating voice to the equally grating prose of ‘Fifty Shade of Grey.’
Frank Welker, Abu/Rajah/The Cave of Wonders
Then: Aladdin’s simian sidekick, Jasmine’s pet tiger and the massive tiger-headed Cave of Wonders may not sound much alike, but that’s the magic of Frank Welker. Before the prolific voice actor lent his considerable talents to ‘Aladdin,’ he was searching for clues as Fred from ‘Scooby-Doo,’ menacing the Autobots as the original Megatron and helping Spock with his screaming in ‘Star Trek III,’ among countless other roles.
Now: It’s still easier to list cartoons Welker hasn’t been in than to list all the ones he has. Currently, you can hear him still playing Fred in ‘Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated,’ voicing a new Megatron on ‘Transformers Prime’ and as the current voice of Garfield in ‘The Garfield Show.’
Charlie Adler, Gazeem the Thief
Then: Adler’s first role was as the voice of Spike the baby dragon on the original ‘My Little Pony.’ Children of the ’90s will remember him as Buster Bunny from ‘Tiny Toon Adventures.’
Now: He continues to show up in a ton of cartoon credits. He played Mechanicles in the ‘Aladdin’ TV series and both of the title characters on Cartoon Network’s ‘Cow and Chicken.’ Lately he’s been heard as Starscream in the Michael Bay ‘Transformers’ movies.
Corey Burton, Prince Achmed
Then: Prior to playing Jasmine’s jilted suitor, Burton had already enjoyed a long career with Disney. He had taken over the role of Ludwig Von Drake from the late Paul Frees, voiced Dale and Zipper in ‘Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ and Gruffi Gummi on ‘Adventures of the Gummi Bears.’
Now: He’s still heard frequently in TV and film animation, voicing everyone from Brainiac on ‘Superman: The Animated Series’ to the evil Count Dooku on ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars.’ Burton remains a Disney regular and is currently voicing Captain Hook on ‘Jake and the Never Land Pirates.’
Jim Cummings, Razoul the Guard/ Farouk the Merchant
Then: Another frequently heard Disney voice, Cummings started out on the TV series ‘Dumbo’s Circus.’ He’s been the voice of Winnie the Pooh since 1988 and later took on Tigger as well.
Now: He continues to be heard in most cartoons you could name. He also voices Mickey’s sometime foe Pete and played Ray the firefly in ‘The Princess and the Frog.’ Currently, he can be heard in a number of different roles on Disney’s ‘Sofia the First.’