Let’s cut to the chase here, folks: If there hadn’t been a Robin Williams, there never would have been a Disney’s Aladdin.
Don’t believe me? Then check out this excerpt from the screenplay for this animated classic that John Musker, Ron Clements, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio turned in on July 3, 1991:
Aladdin studies the lamp carefully.
ALADDIN (CONT.): It’s such a beat-up, worthless piece of junk. (notices) I think there’s something written here… but it’s hard to make out…
Aladdin rubs the lamp with his sleeve. It glows slightly — and then, POOF! Colorful smoke spews out of the spout. It eddies and swirls, filling the cave, taking shape and solid form.
Towering above Aladdin is the gigantic GENIE of the lamp. He is a hip, hyper, mercurial Robin Williams type, full of exuberance, with a childlike vulnerability.
GENIE: Oy! Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck!
Mind you, if Robin Williams hadn’t agreed to come voice the Genie… Well, Walt Disney Animation Studios did have a few other comic actors in mind that it could possibly ask to come voice this character. Chief among these being Steve Martin and Martin Short.
But once Williams did agree to come on board this WDFA production and voicing the Genie, Musker, Clements, Elliot and Rossio immediately began making changes to Aladdin’s screenplay to better showcase Robin’s talents. Though there are those who suggest that one change that was made to this movie’s script during this period may have robbed the Genie of his chance to give Aladdin and Jasmine a pretty magical wedding present.
What am I talking about? Again we go to that July 3, 1991 draft of Aladdin’s screenplay. At this point in the motion picture, Jafar has been defeated and Aladdin has just used his last wish to give the Genie his freedom.
JASMINE: What are you going to do?
GENIE: Are you kidding? There’s a big wide world out there, and it’s just waiting for a big wide guy like me!
He grabs Aladdin in a bear hug.
GENIE: You are a great kid. No matter what anyone says, you’ll always be a prince to me.
ALADDIN: Good bye, Genie. I’ll miss you.
The Genie mists up a bit. He opens his mouth to say something — but he is actually too choked up to speak. He nods, releases Aladdin… waves, as he lifts into the sky.
Aladdin turns to Jasmine. She looks at him admiringly.
ALADDIN: (takes Jasmine’s hands) I’m sorry… but I just can’t pretend I’m something I’m not anymore…
Jasmine hugs Aladdin. Tears in her eyes.
JASMINE: I understand… It’s just so unfair… I love you.
The Sultan hurries up, trailing the scroll behind him. Abu and the Carpet follow.
SULTAN: Jasmine! Aladdin! That Jafar was such a villainous liar… Listen! This is what the law really says: ‘If, in the event a suitable prince cannot be found, a princess may then be wed to whomever she deems worthy!’
Aladdin and Jasmine are dumbfounded.
SULTAN: I guess that means you can choose… (teasing) if you can find someone worthy…
A beat — Abu slicks his hair back real quick — and Jasmine smiles a huge smile, LEAPS into Aladdin’s arms —
JASMINE: (pointing at Aladdin) Him! Him! Him! I choose … (to Aladdin) I choose you.
Aladdin is ecstatic. He twirls around with her, celebrating. The Sultan smiles, satisfied, looks down at the scroll.
SULTAN: I thought you might say that …
He scowls, noticing something on the scroll. Cautiously touches it with his finger. Like wet ink, magical Genie sparkles stick to his finger. The Genie, small-sized, forms out of the sparkles, holding a quill pen.
GENIE: I figured it’d make a nice wedding present …
The Sultan is startled. He looks over at Aladdin and Jasmine, who are staring into each other’s eyes. The Sultan smiles.
SULTAN: A wonderful wedding present. (confidentially) It was a stupid law anyway …
They both laugh heartily. The Genie fades away, leaving the Sultan chuckling to himself.
That would have been a pretty sweet parting gift for the Genie to bestow on Aladdin & Jasmine, don’t you think? But then again — having the Sultan be the one to decide that it was time to change that a-princess-can-only-marry-a-prince law was a pretty strong story choice as well.
And speaking of the way that Disney’s Aladdin ultimately came out… This weekend, in remembrance of Robin Williams, this much-beloved animated feature will be presented multiple times on the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.
To be specific, Aladdin will air on the Disney Channel Saturday, August 16th at 9 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET/PT. Then on Sunday, August 17th, this Ron Clements / John Musker movie will be presented on Disney XD at 11 a.m. & 7:30 p.m. ET/PT. Meanwhile over on Disney Junior, Aladdin will first be shown at 6 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, August 17th and then again on Monday, August 18th at 11 a.m. ET/PT.