Homer Simpson has played Genie more than anyone else
If you’re fanatical enough to listen to (or record) a Simpsons podcast, Dan Castellaneta is mainly famous for being Homer Simpsons and about eight dozen other Springfieldians. However, to Disney experts, Dan was one of the most famous (or infamous), replacements ever heard. After Robin Williams owned the role of Genie, Castellaneta was put in the thankless position of taking over as Genie when Williams quit. And while he’s not the MVG (Most Valuable Genie), Dan does get an award for most video game performances as the character. In fact, he’s been Genie so many times, that he’s recreated some of the original film’s scenes in stunted JRPG cutscene form:
Nobody can really replace Williams’ unique comic energy, but Dan is quite the skilled voice actor in his own right and does his best using his considerable skill. Castellaneta first played Genie in the direct-to-video sequel Return of Jafar, which led straight into the TV series, where he played the blue goofus in 86 episodes. As the late 90s and early 2000s rolled around Castellaneta moved onto games like the above Kingdom Hearts. Dan even recorded Genie’s lines for the third Aladdin film before his performance was thrown out to make room for the returning Williams. In 2014 Castellaneta got replaced as Genie by Jim Meskimen, allowing Dan more time to sit back and watch his Simpsons paychecks pile up.
Jasmine and Mulan have the same singing voice
In current Disney films like Frozen, it’s pretty common to hire a voice actor who does the speaking and the singing, like Josh Gad and the wickedly talented Adele Dazeem. But during Disney’s ’90s renaissance, folks like Simba, Pocahontas, and Hercules had separate performers for talking and singing. And that includes Brad Kane and Lea Salonga-Chien, who recently reunited to sing A Whole New World together (the characters’ speaking voices are watching on, no doubt filled with jealousy). Here’s the Oscar-worthy reprise:
If you’re a fan of Les Miserables or Miss Saigon – and who isn’t? – you know Lea Salonga is a Broadway legend, and her subbing in for Disney Princess’ singing voices didn’t end with Jasmine. Lea took care of all of Mulan’s songs in the film of the same name, including the beautiful Reflection. Lea was even considered for Mulan’s speaking part as well, but she apparently wasn’t right for Mulan’s lower-pitch masquerade as Ping. She’ll have to settle for being a multi-Tony Award winner behind the most memorable songs of an entire generation.
Aladdin was voiced by a Full House cast member
On a list of the best Full House characters, you begin with Uncle Jesse and work your way down, ending at the bottom with DJ’s boyfriend Steve tied with Alzheimer’s sufferer Eddie. Steve was played by Scott Weinger, though that’s hardly his most famous role. Scott would transfer his All-American boy persona to give Aladdin the voice of a charming All-Arabian boy – though the singing would be handled by Brad Kane. In a surprising twist, Scott’s most famous roles would come crashing into each other on TGIF in 1993.
In a two-parter that was basically a long commercial for Disney World, Michelle is rewarded for being a selfish jerk, Uncle Jesse’s band plays adequate rock covers, and Steve shows up dressed as Aladdin. It was a clever in-joke amidst all the shilling for Disney’s Orlando park (on the Disney-owned ABC network), and this moment is pretty much the only reason to ever rewatch Full House. Weinger has played Aladdin many more times in the last couple decades, and will soon be playing Steve again in the wholly unwanted and unnecessary Fuller House reunion series.
Genie starred in a Lot OF edutainment
Disney sure knows how to settle grudges. How did they win back the mega-star they chased away with numerous slights? They bought the man a Picasso. No, literally, a one-of-a-kind painting from the one painter almost every idiot can name. However, I’m pretty sure that (nor money) had much to do with Robin returning to his iconic role as Genie, but more to do with what he was doing with the role. Yes, Williams reprised his role as Genie in Aladdin and the King of Thieves, but he also seemed perfectly happy to do the voice of Genie for numerous small-scale educational endeavors whenever the right opportunity arose.
After a stretch of years where the Genie was relegated to silent cameos, Aladdin fans watching ABC’s One Saturday Morning in the late nineties were treated to a familiar face with an even more familiar voice. In between shows like Recess, Doug, and The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, Robin Williams’ Genie hosted “Great Minds Think For Themselves,” a series of brief animated interstitials focused on noteworthy historical figures like Jackie Robinson and Louis Armstrong. Great, another reason to miss Robin Williams!
And you’ve probably never seen Robin Williams final performance as Genie
Following Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Robin Williams didn’t voice the Genie in any form of traditional entertainment. No TV, no commercials, no theme parkery. However, he did pop up in places you didn’t expect, and it was usually within the realm of education. One such place is in Disney’s Math Quest with Aladdin, a point-and-click arithmetic adventure on PC and Macintosh in 1998.
The animation is sub-television, but its undeniably funny in parts. Williams an avid gamer, so that and Math Quest’s educational content are the only plausible explanations for his participation in such a seemingly rinky-dink project. Either way, Williams’ death hit us all pretty hard, and I honestly take comfort in knowing there’s still some of his Genie performances out there that we’ve never seen just waiting to be discovered.
The Peddler and Genie were meant to be the same person
Aladdin begins by introducing the story with a simple peddler trying to sell you things on the streets of Agrabah. He’s a funny guy, voiced by Robin Williams and telling the same style of rapid fire jokes Genie will unload about 30 minutes later. The Peddler even sings the opening song, Arabian Nights, which featured the now-excised line “Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face.” Despite Peddler’s prominence, you never see him again, which is too bad, because he originally was going to be revealed as the freed Genie in disguise.
It’s pretty obvious now when you see Peddler not only shares Robin’s voice, but also the familiar blue and red clothes, and has four Genie-like fingers (unlike other five-fingered humans in the film). The newly free Genie imparting this tale to the viewer would have been clever storytelling device, but perhaps it was seen as too limiting a finale for future Genie appearances. The Peddler still made an appearance in a similar fashion at the close of the third film, King of Thieves. This time he wasn’t voiced by the returning Williams, so him being Genie clearly was no longer canonical. At least he finally finished telling us all the tale of Aladdin.
Even the biggest fan of Disneyana had to be surprised by a few of those, right? Tell us all how impressed you are with our Aladdin knowledge in the comments below. And be sure to hum A Whole New World as you type, ok?