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Aladdin 2: The Real Reason Robin Williams Refused To Return

Robin Williams' larger-than-life vocal performance as the Genie in the 1992 animated Disney hit "Aladdin" remains one of the late comedian's defining roles. So when excited kids tuned into its 1994 direct-to-video sequel "The Return of Jafar," it was apparent that something was off about the beloved comic relief. Well, that's because the Mouse House gave Williams a real neck crick.

Williams worked on "Aladdin" for the SAG scale pay of $75,000 instead of his usual $8 million rate. His only condition, however, was that the company would not use his voice for extensive merchandising or marketing. However, things took an upsetting turn when Williams discovered that Disney had not been entirely truthful. "Then all of a sudden, they release an advertisement–one part was the movie, the second part was where they used the movie to sell stuff," he told The Today Show. "That was the one thing I said: 'I don't do that.' That was the one thing where they crossed the line." Williams swore off working for the company as a result, even after he was sent a Pablo Picasso painting as an apology.

For both "The Return of Jafar" and the follow-up 1994 "Aladdin" TV series, Disney replaced Williams with Homer Simpson voice actor Dan Castellaneta as the Genie. Thankfully, things would be amended when Joe Roth took over Jeffrey Katzenberg's place as Disney's studio chief, and issued a public apology to Williams in 1994. As a result, Williams returned the humble gesture the best way he knew how.

Williams' return to the third movie overjoyed the crew

It took some time, but Robin Williams and Disney were finally on good terms following the company's controversial mishandling of the Genie while advertising "Aladdin." So when Williams agreed to come back for the next "Aladdin" direct-to-video sequel, 1996's "Aladdin and the King of Thieves," the creative team were eager, to say the least. They happily threw aside Dan Castellaneta's pre-recorded material once Williams was back on board. Recording the lines took only about a week for Williams, who used a mix of his trademark improvisation with the material from writers Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley.

But the team was more than happy to simply see Williams do his thing, with McCorkle recalling in a 2017 interview with Den of Geek, "He just gives so many choices. His mind worked so fast. It was the only time in my life where I would go at the end of a day and I would be in pain from laughing too much. There were muscles in my stomach hurting." Williams starred in other Disney productions following the feud, including 1997's "Flubber" and 1999's "Bicentennial Man."

Simply put, no one — whether they be Homer Simpson or the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" — could match the comedic timing and genuine heart that Williams brought to the Genie, and "King of Thieves" is all the better because of it.