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8 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Disney Villains

Over the decades, Disney movies have shown us some of the most dastardly villains in movie history. And surprisingly, in that world, many people tend to prefer Disney villains to Disney heroes. It’s probably due to the main characters having the same boring manners for all movies. On the other hand, villains can do whatever they want and become whoever they love. That’s why this type of character is always more interesting than the heroes.

And it’s no doubt that these bad people have such cool influences and impacts on us, no matter how old we are. We have to assume that Disney animators and voice actors get a bit more excited when they’re assigned villains, just due to the sheer amount of personality the evildoers seem to always possess.

Today, we have compiled some of the best behind-the-scenes stories about Disney villains. Let’s scroll down and check them out!

#1 Cruella de Vil’s Eccentricity Was Inspired By An Actress From The ’40s and ’50s Who Was Truly Larger Than Life

Source: Buena Vista Distribution / Flickr

In creating Cruella de Vil, Disney drew from Hollywood’s bad girl club, whose leader was Tallulah Bankhead. Despite not being as famous as her chic-chick contemporaries like Bette Davis and Greta Garbo, Bankhead trounced them in personality. She was outspoken, flamboyant, vulgar, and a chronic smoker, traits that animators – and voice actress Betty Lou Gerson – gave to Cruella. Disney passed on her R-rated traits like exhibitionism, promiscuity, and alcohol and drug use. Cruella’s look was also inspired by Bankhead, especially her thinness. At her lightest, the actress weighed 75 pounds.

#2 Walt Disney Wanted To Show Bambi’s Mom’s Killer Burned To Death By The Fire He Accidentally Started

Source: Bambi / RKO Radio Pictures

The hunter in Bambi, known as “Man,” is probably the most memorable Disney villain by virtue of his absence. He is never presented, even while doing the thing for which he’s universally despised. That wasn’t always the plan, though, as Walt himself expected to depict Man and give an unpleasant ending.
A scene was drawn displaying Man’s corpse lying behind a charred tree. After Walt went to his senses, he scrapped that scene along with the one depicting Bambi’s mother’s execution.

#3 Hades Was Intended To Be A More Serious Villain Played By Jack Nicholson, But Disney Rewrote The Character When He Asked For Too Much Money

Source: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution / Flickr

Hercules’s Lord of the Underworld was created for Jack Nicholson to portray in a slow, menacing manner. But Nicholson turned down the part over money. According to Disney historian Jim Hill, Nicholson was offered about $500,000 to $1 million but wanted $10-15 million and 50% of the profits from Hade’s merchandise.
Finally, the role then came to James Woods, whose fast-talking, wise-cracking take on the character prompted writers and animators to design a new Hades.

#4 The Writer Of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Based Gaston On Various Guys From Her Own Failed Relationships

Source: Buena Vista Pictures

The first woman to write a Disney animated feature, Linda Woolverton, owes arguably her best character to ex-boyfriends. Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston is the villain everyone wants to hate, which makes sense because he’s an amalgam of guys in Woolverton’s life whom she alternately loved and hated. After divulging this impact to the LA Times, Woolverton seemed to admit that she personalized some of Gaston’s most loathsome moments.

#5 Jafar’s Villain Song, ‘Humiliate the Boy,’ Was Cut For Being Too Cruel – And Possibly Personal

Source: Aladdin / Buena Vista Pictures

Jafar was considered to get a full villain song instead of the minute-long “Prince Ali” reprise. Disney portrayed around with numerous ditties such as “Humiliate the Boy,” which went far enough in the production process to be partially animated. In it, Jafar exposes Prince Ali as Aladdin and humiliates him for over 3 minutes. The song was cut for pacing purposes, but it was also supposed cruel – and not for the reasons you may think. Co-director John Musker thinks that songwriter Howard Ashman, who would lose his battle with AIDS during production, had used “Humiliate the Boy” to vent his frustrations about the illness that was bringing his 40-year-old life to an end. The lyrics completely express some dark themes:
Oh, it’s a thrill.
Oh, it’s such fun.
To see another fellow’s dreams.
Turn into nightmares, one by one.
Truly devastating.

#6 Cheech And Chong Were Supposed To Play The Hyenas In ‘The Lion King,’ But Refused To Work Together At The Time

Source: Buena Vista Pictures / Paramount Pictures

While Cheech is one of the three main hyenas with Whoopi Goldberg and Jim Cummings in The Lion King, Chong was believed to portray Whoopi’s part. Still, Cheech and Chong had a falling out and weren’t working together at the time.
In an interview with The Lion King’s co-director Rob Minkoff, Whoopi revealed that she requested to be in the movie after Elton John told her about his participation during a lunch date. Minkoff offered her Tommy Chong’s part, and the rest is history.

#7 Jeremy Irons Smoked In The Recording Booth While Playing Scar, Even While Singing ‘Be Prepared’

Source: The Lion King / Buena Vista Pictures

Absolutely, Scar’s memorable raspy voice may have been completed with a performance enhancer of kinds for Jeremy Irons.
The legendary actor smoked in the booth when recording Scar’s lines. Still, he even smoked while singing the song “Be Prepared.” Editors had to work on the drags between lines and verses.

#8 Claude Frollo Was Inspired By A Villain From Another ’90s Film, ‘Schindler’s List’

Source: Buena Vista Pictures / Universal Pictures

The sadistic Judge Frollo was derived from the more brutal Amon Goeth from Schindler’s List. Although Frollo comes from the Hunchback of Notre Dame novel (where he’s an archdeacon rather than a judge), Ralph Fiennes’s portrayal as Third Reich commandant Goeth impacted Frollo’s contradictory feelings towards Gypsies.
In Schindler’s List, Goeth despises the Jewish race, yet is drawn to his Jewish maid. In Hunchback, Frollo is also enamored with Esmeralda despite persecuting her people.