Robin Williams’ Real Voice Was Used in New Disney Film
Genie is back to life with the voice of late Robin Williams! Almost 10 years after the actor passed away, Disney decided to leave AI aside and delight fans with the chance to hear Williams himself as the beloved Aladdin character one more time in an extraordinary project.
The cameo is featured in a short film.
In honor of Disney’s 100th birthday, the company has introduced a new animated short film to its collection of iconic works. The short, titled Once Upon a Studio, counts a whopping 543 animated characters from 85 Disney films that get together for a group photograph to celebrate the momentous milestone.
Genie, famously voiced by the late Robin Williams in the 1992 classic Aladdin, is one of the characters chosen to pay homage to Disney’s acclaimed animation history while recognizing the adored characters that have played an integral role in the company’s enduring heritage. The presence of the character and, above all, the use of old recordings of the actor was secured with the blessing of Williams’ family, given the actor’s passing in 2014.
“We tried to take them on the journey with us to say, ’We’ve got this very special short that we’re doing. Robin as the genie means so much to so many people, and we would really love to involve him,’” producer Brad Simonsen explained how they reached out to Williams’ loved ones.
One of the co-directors of the short film, Dan Abraham, “listened to the outtakes from the original recording [of Aladdin], and he found those little bites we could use. We went back to the estate and said, ’This is what we hope to do,’” the producer added. “’[animator Eric Goldberg], who originally animated the genie, is on the show, and he’s going to be part of it.’ And it was wonderful to see that happen.”
His daughter criticized the use of AI shortly before the exciting announcement.
On October 1, 2023, just two weeks before the announcement of Williams’ posthumous feature in the short film, Zelda Williams, the actor’s only daughter, posted a long text on an Instagram story condemning the use of AI in certain delicate situations. “I’ve witnessed for YEARS how many people want to train these models to create/recreate actors who cannot consent, like Dad. This isn’t theoretical, it is very, very real,” she started.
“I’ve already heard AI used to get his ’voice’ to say whatever people want, and while I find it personally disturbing, the ramifications go far beyond my own feelings,” she continued. “Living actors deserve a chance to create characters with their choices, voice cartoons, and put their HUMAN effort and time into the pursuit of performance.”
“These recreations are, at their very best, a poor facsimile of greater people,” Williams concluded, “but at their worst, a horrendous Frankensteinian monster, cobbled together from the worst bits of everything this industry is, instead of what it should stand for.”
Watch the trailer of Once Upon a Studio below:
Fans of late actress Carrie Fisher also saw themselves able to appreciate new work from the star posthumously. Seven years after she passed away, the Star Wars-icon’s final movie was finally released.