When you cast a comedian in your movie it’s often because you’re looking for a performer who is capable of taking the initiative to try different things in order to see what works best with the character. This is obviously what the creators of Aladdin were thinking when they cast both Robin Williams and Gilbert Gottfried in major comedic roles for the 1992 Disney classic. However, the voice of the parrot Iago just admitted that sometimes he took advantage of the freedom he was given.
In a recent AMA on Reddit the actor and comedian was asked how much of his dialogue in Aladdin was scripted and how much was improvised. Gilbert Gottfried says that he was given a great deal of freedom to improvise, though occasionally he accidentally took it a little too far.
The makers of Aladdin were very open to have me improvise. They gave me a lot of freedom but often they would have to stop and go, ‘Gilbert, this is a family film.’
The image of a swearing Iago, we have to admit, sounds fantastic. While we have no idea of the tapes of these sessions survived we would love to hear them. While we can’t imagine them ever being included on an official release, if they’re not family friendly, it would still be glorious to see just how far the comedian went. The character of Iago is perpetually angry so it’s not that hard to imagine that character throwing a fit and perhaps accidentally letting some words fly that would not fit the movie Disney was trying to create. We’ve certainly heard Gottfried get vulgar, so it’s far from shocking that it could have happened while being given carte blanche inside the recording booth.
The freedom to improvise in Aladdin is not a new idea in itself. A recent Blu-Ray re-release of Aladdin showed us just how far Robin Williams took his character of the Genie. Video of the recording booth shows him doing impressions and characters that never made it into the finished movie.
If tape of Robin Williams exists, it’s certainly possible that the tape of Gilbert Gottfried going blue has also survived, although, it’s also possible that Disney killed those tapes long ago, knowing that they’d never be able to officially show them to anybody. Alternatively, they’re all sitting in a safe at the home of a Disney sound engineer and he brings them out to play at parties.
We have to believe there was the occasional moment when Robin Williams went too far off script too. He was certainly capable of it and likely would have done it just to entertain himself and the crew. How much would you like to hear the "lost Aladdin tapes?"