Williams voiced the Genie in Disney’s 1992 film Aladdin. He was also a big fan of animated filmmaking. He portrayed the titular hero in Robert Altman’s 1980 film Popeye.
Williams was a go-to presenter for animation-related Oscars. He presented honorary Oscars to Warner Bros. animation director Chuck Jones (see below) and animation producer Walter Lantz, as well as special achievement Oscars to Richard Williams and John Lasseter.
In addition to his role as the Genie, Williams voiced other animated characters, including Batty Koda in Fern Gully, Ramon and Lovelace in the Happy Feet series, Fender in Robots, and the kiwi in the TV special A Wish for Wings That Work. Williams also voiced the cartoon characters in the Chuck Jones-directed opening of Mrs. Doubtfire.
He appeared both in person and as an animated character in Back to Neverland, an animated short that played at Disney/MGM Studios’ Animation Pavilion. The director of that project, Jerry Rees, has a page on his website documenting its making.
Williams also supported independent animators, and spoke highly of the films of Faith Hubley, once telling an interviewer:
“My kids discovered her when I asked my son if he wanted to go watch a Disney movie and he said, ‘No, I don’t dad.’ So I put in a Faith Hubley movie and he would just watch it like he was seeing Picasso moving. He would watch her movies over and over again, and they were magnificent because they would talk about all these different careers and religions, history— it was like Elmer Fudd doing A Street Car Named Desire.”
UPDATE #1: According to an anonymous Cartoon Brew commenter, Williams was also a fan of anime, and incorporated references to anime into his films. For example, in One Hour Photo, he added a reference to the Japanese series Neon Genesis Evangelion:
UPDATE #2: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences referenced Williams’ role as the Genie in their condolence tweet:
Animation news you can use Support independent publishing
Your membership will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you. Support Cartoon Brew for as little as $1 a week — the process is fast and easy.