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Why Aladdin Is a "Stealth Feminist Movie" and More Secrets From the Original Cast

Why Aladdin Is a "Stealth Feminist Movie" and More Secrets From the Original Cast

By Kate Friedman

Twenty-three years after the original 1992 release of "Aladdin," the story remains an unforgettable Disney classic.

And now the movie is getting re-released today in an all-new Blu-ray and Digital HD format that includes never-before-seen Genie outtakes. What better way to celebrate this re-release than to sit down and talk with the original cast — Aladdin (Scott Weinger), the singing voice of Aladdin (Brad Kane), Jafar (Jonathan Freeman), and Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) — right here at Glamour HQ about their favorite memories, Disney favorites, and, of course, camel rides.

On why "Aladdin" has remained so popular over the years:
Jonathan Freeman: It’s a great story that’s centuries old, and it’s really one of the great fables. I think that the story itself has a lot to say, and it has endured. It has been done many different times in many different ways, such as musicals, and even a Popeye cartoon. I think when you have a great story it stands the test of time. 
Scott Weinger: The Alan Menken music gives it a timeless quality too.
Linda Larkin: The relevance of it today remains so strong. Someone asked me if I thought Jasmine was a good role model, and I said yes because in the movie she says that the law is wrong about marriage, and then 23 years later all of these kids that saw "Aladdin" grew up and changed a marriage law that was wrong in this country. When I connected that I realized it wasn't an accident.
Brad Kane: "Aladdin" is a stealth feminist movie. She's willing to give up being a princess to not get stuck marrying someone. 
Linda: She says, "If I do marry, I want it to be for love!" What a great message.

The cast on their favorite memories from "Aladdin":
Brad: My favorite memory is recording my voice live with the 75-piece orchestra right on the other side of a thin piece of glass. Then when the tubas come in, you really get blown back on your heels. That’s the energy you want to come through on an animated film. 
Scott: Mine is working with the cast — and particularly Robin Williams, who has been my hero my whole life, so to meet him and work with him and see him improvise and perform and work alone in the room with him was a pretty incredible experience.
Linda: My favorite memory was seeing the complete movie at El Capitan the night of the premiere. It was so incredible to see everything we’d been working on for two years and to hear my voice coming out of that character was just unbelievable. And that was the first time I saw the sequence of "A Whole New World," so that was pretty special too.
Brad: They did a screening at the Museum of Modern Art before the movie was done, which was amazing, because for all of us who had been working on it as voice actors, our only participation was in the recording studio. To see it as a work in progress and see the drawings, even though some of it was just in pencil, was incredible. Because the image is such a strong part of the legend, the image of the Genie transforming into all of these different things, the image of Jafar the villain, and all of that stuff, we didn’t get a sense of that just being in the booth, so to see that finished was amazing.
Jonathan: One of my greatest memories was seeing my voice coming out of my character at an early pencil test of the first scene, where he rides across the desert. I felt like a kid in the candy store. It feels like real magic. I mean, how did they stuff my voice into that?
Scott: And the crazy thing is that the movie came out 23 years ago, and here we are all still together.

On riding camels together:
Scott: Brad and I rode camels together at this huge premiere celebration at Disney World when the movie first came out, and everyone was there. It was a huge Aladdin-themed party, but it was pouring rain, so we were riding on our camels and getting rained on.
Brad: There’s a part in the movie when Robin Williams is showing a camel, and he goes "Be careful of them, they spit!" I remember making that joke when we were actually in front of a camel, and it actually spit on me.
Jonathan: I had to throw my jeans away after that. I sent them to be cleaned, and they still reeked, so I had to throw them out.

On getting recognized by their voices:
Scott: Twice. It once happened to me when I was getting ready to go to college, and I was in a T-shirt store. I said "This is a cool one" and somebody said, "Oh my god, are you Aladdin?" The second time I was in a bar in L.A., and I said "I’ll have another one!" Someone overheard and asked me if I was Aladdin. 
Linda: I get recognized all the time, but they whip around and look at me and then have no idea who I am. I can tell these little kids will think they know me, and it's hilarious the way they whip around so confused.
Scott: It’s so funny because people tell me it’s really distracting when I talk because they only hear Aladdin, and I don’t think so, but when I hear Linda it's crazy how much I hear Jasmine.
Jonathan: The difference is I can literally sneak out of the theater at night because I don’t look like Jafar. I just look like some old guy with glasses and gray hair!
Brad: The weirdest thing is that the movie came out 23 years ago, and people come up to me like, "Hey, you're the Aladdin guy right?" and I don’t know how they know. It’s just weird to be in the grocery store picking out bananas and hear someone ask me. I don’t get recognized for my speaking voice because I sang the song, but when people know that I sang "A Whole New World" I get requests from people to sing it with them because it was a duet. I wouldn’t do it for the longest time, and then finally I sang it with my wife at our wedding. 
Scott: Brad has the gorgeous singing voice, but whenever people introduce me as the voice of Aladdin and compliment my singing, I just say thank you. Sorry, Brad!

On where their characters would be today:
Jonathan: Well, I’d probably still be trapped in a lamp.
Scott: God knows how many kids Aladdin and Jasmine would have at this point. 
Linda: Probably 6 or 7!
Brad: I think Aladdin would be the number one purveyor of magic carpet rides. He’s basically a used car salesman.

On their other favorite Disney movies: 
Brad: The most significant was probably the first movie I ever saw in theaters, which was Pete’s Dragon. It’s a Disney movie from the late '70s about an invisible dragon and an invisible friend. I knew from that moment I was a Disney fan because of the impression it made on me. 
Scott: I think Tangled is a classic, and the score is incredible.
Jonathan: I like Pinocchio very much, and I think it’s a fantastic movie. It’s dark, but it’s great. 
Linda: I was a Snow White girl for sure. That was my princess when I was little.

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Photo Credit: Everett