Robin Williams is one of the most beloved actors of all time. According to IMDb, this talented actor had over 110 acting credits in numerous movies and television shows. In fact, Williams played many iconic characters, from Captain Hook to the Genie in Aladdin, throughout his long, successful career. And many of his movies played an important role in almost everyone’s childhood.
Although he did voice-over acting for several of their animated movies, Robin Williams once had a fallout with Disney. Feeling betrayed by the company, the actor made the promise never to work for them again.
Unsurprisingly this was not the first nor the last time an actor had issues with Walt Disney Studios. Most recently, Scarlett Johansson sued Disney for a breach in her contract for the movie Black Widow.
Robin Williams Began His Career As A Stand-Up Comedian
Nowadays, the late Robin Williams is best known as an actor with one of the most impressive ranges Hollywood has ever seen. Williams proved his talent, time and time again, by showing he could work in dramas and comedies alike. And throughout his career, he received many awards, including an Academy Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards.
Despite this, Robin Williams’ career started by working as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the mid-1970s. He even released several comedy albums, including Reality … What a Concept, in 1980.
Williams landed his first professional acting gig in 1978 when Garry Marshall cast him as the alien Mork in an episode of the TV series Happy Days. Williams joined the show as a last-minute replacement for another actor, but his quirky sense of humor greatly impressed the producers. Playing Mork, Williams improvised most of his dialogues and physical comedy. His performance was so successful that the NBC executives got him to sign a contract just four days later!
His short-lived appearance in Happy Days was so popular with viewers that it led to a spin-off series titled Mork & Mindy. Co-starring Pam Dawber, Williams would go on to play Mork for almost five years, from 1978 to 1982. Thanks to this role, Williams rose to international fame and started landing more acting roles.
In 1980, he made his feature film debut with the lead role in Popeye. Shortly enough, Williams would go on to become one of the most sought-out actors in Hollywood, a status that would only grow stronger after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting (1997) in the late 90s. In addition to this, Williams would play many other Academy-Award-nominated roles in movies such as Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), and The Fisher King (1991).
Robin Williams Had A Fallout With Disney That Led Him To Promise Never To Work For Them Again
In the early 90s, Robin Williams was cast in one of his most recognized and beloved roles: the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin (1992). Although at first, he didn’t want to take on this role because it was a Disney movie and he didn’t like the idea of the studio profiting by selling merchandise based on the movie, Williams ended up taking the role.
His performance was so good that he won several awards, including a Special Golden Globe Award for Vocal Work in a Motion Picture.
When he accepted to be part of this project, Robin Williams put some conditions. “The one thing I said was I will do the voice,” Williams revealed in an interview. “I’m doing it basically because I want to be part of this animation tradition. I want something for my children. One deal is, I just don’t want to sell anything — as in Burger King, as in toys, as in stuff.”
However, Disney ended up breaking this agreement, using Williams’ voice as the Genie in some advertising for Aladdin. Because of this, Williams didn’t take part in the direct-to-video sequel The Return of Jafar (1994), in which Dan Castellaneta voiced Genie. Robin Williams felt so betrayed that he promised never to work for Disney again.
Did Robin Williams Keep His Promise Of Not Working With Disney Ever Again?
Although he vowed not to work with Disney ever again after what happened with the first Aladdin movie, Robin Williams didn’t keep his promise. When Joe Roth took over as Walt Disney Studios chairman in the mid-90s, he issued a public apology to Williams.
The actor accepted the apology and, in turn, came back to reprise the role of Genie in the second sequel of this animated film series, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, in 1996.
A year later, Williams would star in Disney’s science-fiction comedy film, Flubber, produced by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Les Mayfield and written by John Hughes and Bill Walsh, this beloved comedy film was a remake of the 1961 movie The Absent-Minded Professor.