An all-new animated cameo-filled short film celebrating the 100th anniversary of Disney features the voice of Robin Williams and it was all without the use of AI.

“Once Upon a Studio” is now streaming on Disney+ and features many of the company’s beloved classic animated characters. The piece serves as a love letter to the legacy of Disney across all its generations of characters. The company’s characters were created with the voices of legendary actors, who made them iconic! Unfortunately, not all of those actors are still around, which makes the centennial video even more special.

One of which, includes Robin Williams, who made “Aladdin’s” Genie into the highly recognizable character he still is to this day! And in this video, the character is still voiced by Williams.

“Robin Williams is very special. And of course, Genie is one of our special iconic characters. We worked closely with the Williams estate to make sure that they were along for the journey. We pitched them the film and they loved it. We pitched it in board, so they saw it very early on,” shared producer Yvett Merino on making the magic happen. “And the recording that you hear is actually one of the recordings [from Aladdin outtakes].”

Co-writer and director Trent Correy further explained the process that went into using the familiar faces and voices in the short. “[Our] legal team, whether it was using the look of a character or the sound, they went to extreme efforts to do that and we absolutely went to the estate right away to get proper permission for all the characters.”

Dan Abraham, the other half of the filmmaking team, was up to the task of scouring Robin Williams’ Aladdin booth recording outtakes. “[There were] 16 hours of footage of them recording Robin for the Genie. And every time he would say something that they didn’t use, I would go back into my Disney Rolodex in my head and be like, ‘Oh!’ and I would write down the time code and the line,” he said. “We wanted to piece together a moment between [Frozen character] Olaf and the Genie. And so we just came up with the scenario and the dialogue, and it goes by real quick.”

“Once Upon a Studio” was produced prior to the SAG-AFTRA strikes and can be seen on Disney+!

What are your thoughts of Disney choosing to use the late and great Robin Williams in this video? Let us know in the comments! 


Sean Sposato
The Main Street Mouse