10 Questions for John Musker

edited January 2012 in Disney
Okay, here's my question:
I know that Howard came to Disney and taught you guys a lot about musical theater but I also know he was very excited about learning how animation works. What did you teach him? Did you have to move him away from thinking like a theater person and if so, in what way?


  • Well, I'll go ahead and give it a try:
    Mr. Musker, I remember watching small bits and pieces of 'Waking Sleeping Beauty,' and on the section that talked about Howard, I forgot who said this, but I heard that he brought in some examples on how the classic disney animated musicals and regular classic theatre musicals were alike. Could you list off some examples of what musicals and animated films he used to prove his point?

    Don't know if this is what you wanted, or if it's worded right, but hopefully I made some sense.
  • Makes sense and it's a good question. Thanks.
  • Here are a few questions. If Mr. Musker is actually reading this, I'd like to say that I'm a huge fan of your work. My twin wants to be a Disney animator when he gets out of college and he would love to do hand-drawn animation under your direction. By the way, Mr. Musker, even though my favorites are Beauty and Mermaid, I do have a special fondness for Hercules. I know it's not the most appreciated of your works, and I know it's not flawless, but it's one of my absolute favorite films.

    Alright, here goes...

    How much interaction did Howard have with the animators? Did he ever offer any beneficial input to the design or movement of the characters?

    This is a tricky one. How different would Aladdin have turned out had Howard lived? Did Howard ever write a screenplay or did Linda Woolverton write the original draft?

    Could Howard ever have been promoted to a director, despite his relative lack of knowledge of animating a film?

    How much input did you have on Mermaid’s songs? Were they perfect to begin with, or did you have to advise Howard to change the lyrics?

    Do you think Howard could have been a perfect fit for Hercules, with its gospel and rock qualities?

    Do you have a preference for animated movies being musicals or not? Do you think it’s fair to say that all fairy tales should be musicals?

    How was it different working with such men as Randy Newman, Tim Rice, David Zippel, and Alan Menken (without being in Howard’s shadow)?
  • A couple more...

    What did you think of the stage adaptations of Aladdin and Little Mermaid? Did you get to have any input during the creative process of either show?

    Will we see any more hand-drawn films from you and Ron Clements any time soon?

    What's your favorite Howard Ashman song? How hard was it for you to remove "Proud of Your Boy"?

    "You can count on me" was the first song Alan wrote after Howard's death. Do you think that Alan was writing TO Howard in that particular lyric?
  • How does an idea for a project usually begin? Where does inspiration come from? And how long does it take for an idea to really take off?

    How important do you feel Alan and Howard are to Disney's legacy?


  • Hi Sarah

    Thanks for giving us all this amazing opportunity! And please pass on a big thank you from me to John Musker, Aladdin was my favorite film growing up and I have so many happy childhood memories because of the work he (and everyone else involved) did.

    Here’s my question;

    Alan Menken has often said he can hear Howard’s voice in his head advising him. With the complete reworking of Aladdin after Howard’s passing, did you and Ron experience anything similar as you took Aladdin in a new direction, and how much of Howard’s vision would you say ultimately made it to the screen? Also, what was it like to see Howard’s original vision (at least partially) restored and brought to life in Seattle?

    And a long shot question;

    Aladdin has probably the best bonus content of any Disney DVD and gives a very comprehensive look at the making of the film. The one thing that could really improve this for next year’s blu-ray release is the original storyboard rough cut of the film before the decision was taken to completely re-work the story. Glimpses of this were available with the demos of the cut songs. Is there any way Disney could be persuaded to include the full film in this form as a bonus feature, as it’s probably the closest thing to Howard’s original vision of the film that exists.

    Thanks again!

  • I should have made it 20 questions. These are all great, folks. Please keep them coming.
  • Working on mermaid, how was is to initially work with Howard and all of his many ideas? What did it bring to the table.
  • edited February 2012
    What advice would you give to aspiring film-makers and animators?

    Do you feel like the Disney animated fairy-tale is dead, or is it beginning to make a resurgence (with the success of "Princess" and "Tangled")?

    Everyone has their own little quirks. During "Mermaid," what would Howard do that would inadvertently make you laugh, and what would he do that would make you pull your hair out?
  • The other day, I was watching Mermaid with commentaries on, and whenever a certain scene came up, John would mention "Oh, Howard wrote that," which surprised Alan Menken.

    So my question is how much of The Little Mermaid, story-wise and script-wise, did Howard contribute and did his strong sense of storytelling create a more relatable, emotional, and personal movie?
  • If I may, I like to ask another question; but it's not about Howard. It's on a different topic that I just thought of; but if you don't want this, that's fine. I understand.

    I'm a video gamer, and one of my favorite video game series is kingdom hearts, which uses disney movies as basis for 'worlds' the main character travels to. Three of those worlds that are known are based on movies you've made, Mr. Musker: The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Hercules. How do you feel knowing that those movies are honored by being plased in a beloved video game franchise such as this?

    And like I said, if you want to take this message off, go ahead. I understand.
  • Thought of one more!

    By the time you did Aladdin and Hercules the Disney renaissance was already in full swing, but when you were working on The Little Mermaid Disney was going through harder times. Did the success of Mermaid take you by surprise, or were there moments during production when you realised that you were working on something really special?
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