I was invited on an expense-paid press trip to Los Angeles but all thoughts and excitement are my own. Follow the hashtags #AladdinBloggers #TomorrowlandBloggers and #Disneyland60
Last month’s trip to Los Angeles was not the first time I met Eric Goldberg. He’s not the kind of person you easily forget. As soon as we walked into the room, I knew that I had spent time with him before, though I couldn’t put my finger on it.
There was an energy in the room even before Eric started to speak. I wish I could share not only the things he said but the vibe that he created, but there’s no way to convey everything in simple words.
Aladdin was the first Disney project that Eric worked on, and he was the first animator that they brought on to the movie. He said that when he was asked to come onto the production, he secretly hoped that he’d be able to be put in charge of the Genie….and he was thrilled when that’s exactly what they asked him to do.
As he started to think about what the Genie should look like, he was inspired by the curvy lines of Al Hirshfeld’s drawings. In fact, Eric said that one of the most meaningful, valuable compliments he has received in his career was when Al Hirshfeld saw Aladdin in an early screening and said, at the end of the movie, “It all looks like it was drawn by one hand.”
The Genie didn’t start out as blue, but it was decided early on that good characters in the movie would be drawn with a blue color script while bad characters would be drawn in a red, dark color script. It’s hard to imagine the Genie any other way. Can you picture the Genie with pinkish skin…or anything other than blue?
The Disney team of writers wrote the script for Aladdin with Robin Williams in mind before ever asking Robin if he wanted to be involved. They asked Eric to animate some of Robin’s comedy routines as if the Genie were performing them. When they brought Robin in to pitch the role of Genie to him, they showed him the rough animation of the Genie doing his comedy. Eric said that one of his greatest “accomplishments” was making Robin Williams laugh.
I loved that Eric spoke so much about working with Robin Williams as they were making Aladdin. He said that Robin could take one simple line and do it over and over, each time using a different voice/character. He had a “very fertile mind.” The outtakes bonus feature on the new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack showcases Robin’s brilliance and comedic genius.
Eric said that he is “very critical of his past work,” as most artists and creative people are. But he says that being critical is a good thing because it keeps him fresh. I loved what he said about the value of always learning and growing:
“If I ever stopped learning, I would hang up the pencil.”
Eric says that he feels connected to each character that he animates, but that the Genie will always have a very special place in his heart. When asked about his favorite scene from Aladdin, he responded without hesitation that he loves the scene where the Genie is dancing with his hands. He loves doing dance/musical animation to begin with, but the thing that made this musical scene stand out among the rest was that when Eric and the rest of the creative team saw that scene animated for first time, that was the moment that they knew that the whole movie would work.
After speaking with our group of bloggers, Eric Goldberg walked us through how to draw the Genie step-by-step. Although I was pretty critical of my own attempt to draw the Genie, I was impressed at how well everyone did with just a few instructions from Eric. It was fascinating to see an artist at work!
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