SCOTT WEINGER, THE VOICE OF ALADDIN
Writing for different print and internet publications, I have had the pleasure of meeting numerous Disney personalities and making other contacts. This has led to my holding various Board positions with two different Disney fan based Clubs. Having previously interviewed Linda Larkin, the Voice of Princess Jasmine, I invited her to participate in the Disneyana Fan Club’s Convention this past July. Linda was receptive to the idea but had already committed to another engagement. However she offered to put me in touch with Scott Weinger, the Voice of Aladdin. Scott graciously agreed to be part of an ASIFA-Hollywood Aladdin panel along with famous animators, such as Andreas Deja, Rick Farmiloe, Mark Henn and Duncan Majoribanks, moderated by Tom Sito. ASIFA-Hollywood, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles, California, USA, is a branch member of the “Association Internationale du Film d’Animation” or “ASIFA” (the International Animated Film Association). Its purpose is to promote the art of film animation in a variety of ways, including its own archive and an annual awards presentation, the Annie Awards. The panel was a huge success with the audience and helped promote an awareness of ASIFA-Hollywood’s purpose.
Scott found the panel and the fan group at the Disneyana Fan Club Convention interesting and was receptive to my suggestion that he be the speaker at my other Disney fan based club, Once Upon A Classic. However he was somewhat surprised to learn that he would be the only speaker at the meeting in August. It was my pleasure to interview Scott in front of our members at the meeting and he agreed to a tape recorder for my interview for MiceChat.com.
Scott is an attractive young man, with the natural gift of speech, who talked with ease and at length in response to my questions. Needless to say the audience liked him immensely, as did I as well.
When asked how he got into acting, Scott said he was a terrible athlete and needed an after school activity. When he was in third grade, an actor came to career day and talked so wonderfully about his profession that Scott went home and “pestered and tortured his parents” until his mom checked with a friend, whose child did catalogues and learned that they needed an agent. He was sent out on an audition for a toy company commercial about a bug that turned into a monster and he got the job. He also did a voice over commercial about a popular Cuban sport called Jai Alai. He continued going to auditions in Fl and one audition there happened to be for a production in L.A. so they flew him to L.A. and that was the beginning. He did a lot of commercials, TV shows, mini series and movies.
Growing up in Florida, Scott was a huge Disney fan and he loved going to Walt Disney World. His very best friend in the world, since they were nine years old, remains his best friend and they talk every day even though they live on different coasts. He dragged Scott to see The Little Mermaid, when they were thirteen, which Scott didn’t want to see as it was a girl movie, but found he loved it. His friend is an artist and an animation historian so after Scott had the audition, his friend clued him in on the importance of the film with John Musker, Ron Clements and Glen Keane. Luckily Scott did the interview before he knew this or he said he would have been too nervous. Questioned about Disney animated films, Scott said that he grew up in the era of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.
When I asked Scott how he had gotten the part of Aladdin, he replied “I was a kid actor and I just auditioned for the part of Aladdin. It was before Full House. I was in another show called the Family Man. I wasn’t a voice over actor and was only fifteen. One day after work my mother drove me to an audition, saying it was some cartoon. I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know the magnitude of it. As a result, I did a good job at the audition. Had I known what it was, I probably would have been very nervous and done a terrible job. It wasn’t at Disney but just a regular casting office. They did do something unusual by showing me a picture of Aladdin or how they thought he would look at the time and told me that they wanted me to sound like that. They had me read lines that were on a music stand. I had never done anything that was just my voice, except for a commercial I had done as a kid in Florida. I did the audition and they said that was great. Now this is a singing role, can you sing? I had learned from past failures to always say yes, no matter what they asked. So they gave me sheet music and sent me home. I worked on it even though I really couldn’t sing. I went back in and did the best I could but it wasn’t that great. They evidently liked my speaking voice well enough so I ended up getting the job anyway. When Disney made Aladdin, they really were determined to make him a three dimensional character. Not literally but they wanted him to have his flaws and be a kid from the street, not like Prince Eric. I’m a huge fan of Little Mermaid but they joked that Prince Eric was Prince Generic because he was like your classic prince. “
However it took a few months before Scott learned that he had the role as he had gone back to Florida, when his show was over. They called and asked him to do a new tape so his mother played the Genie with “her thick Brooklyn accent” (Scott’s words) and he got the part based on the tape from Florida. Scott never really moved to California until he finished high school. But he did grow up in Hollywood, Hollywood, Fl that is..
He said that the most exciting part of working on Aladdin was working with Robin Williams. It took about two years to record the film and it came out around his seventeenth birthday. “The whole process was very exciting but working with Robin Williams was the best. I had been a fan of his since I was a little kid and had a Mork doll from Mork and Mindy. My favorite film was and is his film, Dead Poets Society. I was very excited to meet him and he didn’t disappoint. He improvised a lot and I had to be there with him. A lot of animation recording is done alone in a room but if you were working with an actor like him, who improvised a lot and did a lot of different voices, it was kind of like a tennis match. I had told a story that he was so funny in a recording session that he made me fall down on the floor laughing. I had told it so many times for so many years that I forgot if it really was true. Then when the DVD came out with all the extras, it included the moment when I fell down laughing. I guess I was trying to avoid ruining the take by laughing into the microphone so I dropped to the floor. The others were laughing behind the glass and I would look through and see them crying from laughter.” He would do a lot of recording at WDW MGM Studios so he could continue in school in Florida. Over the years Scott has done Aladdin recording sessions in Florida, Boston, Paris, Israel, all over the world. He has put his handprints in the cement at WDW, which was really exciting to him.
When Aladdin came out, he was working in Full House and did about fifty episodes. However he decided to go away to college at Harvard University and got his degree. He continued to do some acting but decided to pursue another dream, which is writing. He has become a television writer and screen writer. He has been on 90210 for some years now and is a producer, as well as a writer. He likes writing comedy as well. He continues to record the voice of Aladdin and plans to do so as long as they want him. He was writing for a show called What I Like About You, and came up with a funny character and his boss said “why don’t you play that character?” It was supposed to be just one episode but it became a recurring role for about six episodes. His writing keeps him busy, so he really doesn’t have time to act. As he said “It’s kind of nice. It’s a more anonymous existence.”