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Iago is a fictional supporting character who appears in Walt Disney Pictures' 31st animated feature film Aladdin (1992), the direct-to-video sequels The Return of Jafar (1994), Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), and the television series. He is voiced by American comedian Gilbert Gottfried in animation and by Disney voice actor Alan Tudyk in the live action adaptation of Aladdin. Iago first appeared in the first film as a minion to the main villain Jafar, and later becomes one of the protagonists for part of the franchise's run, particularly the two direct-to-video sequels and television adaptation. The red-plumed talking scarlet macaw is an homage to the villain of William Shakespeare's Othello.

Iago
Disney's Aladdin character
IagoDisneyCharacter.png
First appearanceAladdin (1992)
Created byWill Finn
John Musker
Ron Clements
Howard Ashman
Voiced byGilbert Gottfried (1992 film, The Return of Jafar, animated series, Aladdin and the King of Thieves)[1]
Alan Tudyk (2019 film)
SpeciesParrot

DevelopmentEdit

 
Iago's original voice actor, Gilbert Gottfried

Voice actingEdit

In the original story treatment by Howard Ashman, Iago (Previously named Sinbad) had been originally conceived as a "British" calm and serious straight man working off Jafar, who was originally conceived as more over-the-top, comedic, and irritable, but the filmmakers later reversed their personalities in large part in order to make Jafar more threatening and when they saw Gilbert Gottfried in Beverly Hills Cop II, Gottfried was cast to provide Iago's voice.[2] Iago's animator Will Finn tried to incorporate some aspects of Gottfried's appearance into Iago's design, especially his semi-closed eyes and the always-appearing teeth.[3]

Gilbert Gottfried has said that his voiceover career really began after voicing the character in the 1992 film. “... that has been one of those things that lives on,” he said. “That seemed to open the door for other voiceover jobs.” [1][4]

Gottfried's unique onstage persona led to him being cast as the wise-cracking Iago.[5] Gottfried is often referred to as "the Iago guy" and similar terms, being more known by his voice role than by name.[6][7]

Personality traitsEdit

Iago resembles a scarlet macaw, though smaller in size and with shorter feathers while retaining the blue tipped wing feathers, blue tail, and white around the eyes. He can speak fluent English and has the ability to perfectly mimic other characters' voices.[8] He also possesses knowledge of various tricks learned from Jafar. He is easily frustrated and openly vocalizes his frustrations, and avoids direct confrontations if he can help it, but when required, he can be quite cunning and mischievous.

Iago is also known for his notorious greed of treasure and gold, for which he will go to outlandish lengths to acquire, usually dragging along Abu to help him, but Abu's incompetence always costs him. Iago is often put in situations of deciding between saving his own tail feathers or doing the right thing. His guilt always leads him to do the latter as he lacks a moral conscience; his greed leaves him unsatisfied in usually losing some form of reward or riches, for which he always berates himself afterwards.

He (as well as maybe Jafar) is a reference to the character of the same name. In Shakespeare's play Othello, Iago is the name of the titular protagonist's ensign; though believed to be trustworthy, all he cares about is getting himself ahead and his own wants. The play revolves around his devious scheme to find a way to get what he wants—an unpleasant surprise to everyone when he is exposed.

AppearancesEdit

According to a piece of conversation in The Return of Jafar, Jafar had picked up Iago in Agrabah's bazaar and reared him as his accomplice in crime. He also mentions in the animated series of having a criminal twin brother named Othello, reference to his name's supposed origins.

AladdinEdit

Several allusions to Shakespeare's Othello are seen:

  • Jafar and Iago resent living under the Sultan and Jasmine like how Shakespeare's Iago and Roderigo resent Othello.
    • Similarly, each individual hates their opposition for different reasons and in differing manners:
      • Jafar and Shakespeare's Iago resent being second best, and in dark brooding orchestrate most of the betrayal.
      • Jafar's Iago and Roderigo are more vocal, contrasting dark brooding with bouts of useless complaining (in the case of Roderigo) and angry sarcastic ranting (in the case of Iago). Iago often says how he hates crackers which the Sultan always force-feeds him; and Roderigo complains about being at the short end of the stick, what with lusting for Othello's wife Desdemona, whose father Brabantio promised him for a hand in marriage.
  • Neither pairing's superiors seem to know of betrayal until it is too late. Whereas Shakespeare's Iago and Roderigo never gain their wants, however, Jafar and his Iago do (albeit for a short period of time).
  • Both Jafar and Shakespeare's Iago end up imprisoned for their actions, and their respective accomplices pay dearly with it. But while Shakespeare's Iago kills Roderigo before being ousted, Jafar drags his Iago into the lamp with him.

The Return of JafarEdit

Having escaped from the lamp, Iago sets out on his own at last, mostly because he is fed up with being taken for granted. Iago appears to have the most character development in the film, as he slowly warms to the idea of friendship after Aladdin saves him from the Sultan's wrath in return for Iago unintentionally saving him from Abis Mal, and finally risks his life to kill Jafar by pushing his lamp into molten lava. Following his heroic deed, he is adopted by Aladdin as his second pet. In the film, Iago performed the songs "I'm Looking Out for Me" and "Just Forget About Love" (the latter with Aladdin and Jasmine as a piece of reverse psychology to encourage Jasmine to forgive Aladdin for keeping Iago's return secret).[9]

Aladdin TV seriesEdit

In the series he provides a sarcastic, realistic, or cowardly perspective on events and is only really willing to face danger if great reward is promised. However, he is sometimes forced to battle his conscience (despite respectively saying in The Return of Jafar that he never had one), and generally does the right thing even when he doesn't have to or could just as easily leave the city (alone) altogether: when Sadira used a memory sand that somehow caused her and Jasmine to switch lives, with animals unaffected, Iago lead Abu and Rajah in finding Jasmine to restore the world to normal. Iago's common schemes involve trying to sell anything with any value (real or not), trying to steal things, and trying to treasure-hunt; he can usually convince Abu to be his partner in crime, but Abu is more likely to leave at the first sign of danger and often lacks the finesse that Iago requires. He cares a lot about Abu, as shown in episodes such as "Much Abu About Something". He and the rain-bird Thundra had feelings for one another, despite a rocky start and him admitting his manipulative personality made appealing to others difficult; Aladdin has occasionally exploited the latter fact, since antagonists are more willing to accept Iago as being more ruthless and amoral than he actually is, though given Iago's villainous origins and upbringings in the underworld, this is rational. Due to his time with Jafar, Iago possesses extensive knowledge of various forms of magic, not only proving useful as Genie's otherwise superior knowledge is ten thousand years out of date (it's Iago who recognized the Kingdom of the Black Sand and its former ruler Destane in "The Citadel"), but also giving him Genie's ability to commonly reference modern things for humor, albeit without a logical excuse (one episode has him screaming in his sleep, "YOU GOT THE WRONG GUY! YOU WANT MY TWIN BROTHER, OTHELLO!", a reference to the play where his name may have come from). As a comic relief sidekick Iago is always good for a laugh—an in-joke in the episode "When Chaos Comes Calling" has Iago running in panic after his face is turned into that of Gilbert Gottfried ("I WANT MY BEAK BACK!").[10] Iago's and Genie's interactions revolve around their magical talents: in one episode Genie gives Iago his powers just for one day (though this backfires when Iago tries to bring water to the desert), and Iago is the only one who knows that Genie once used his own magic to make himself an ice cream sundae as big as a pyramid (something that Genie dares not let the Genie Guild know about). He favours Jasmine the most of the group, not because she trusts him, but because she's the one whose trust he has to work for.

Aladdin and the King of ThievesEdit

He has a supporting role in Aladdin and the King of Thieves, where he helps out with Aladdin and Jasmine's wedding, as well as aiding Aladdin to find his estranged father Cassim, who happens to be the King of the Forty Thieves. Acting on behalf for Aladdin, Iago convinces Cassim to attend the wedding, promising that he will help him get the Hand of Midas. In the end, although the Sultan pardoned him from the sentence of life imprisonment for his complicity with the King of Thieves, Iago chooses to depart Agrabah with Cassim instead of staying with Aladdin and Jasmine on the grounds that he could not handle the "lovey-dovey" stuff, though he briefly breaks down in tears while telling Cassim, implying he will miss them dearly. He also points out that Cassim's sense of thievery is more in line with his as well. However, Iago does promise to visit the couple frequently. He is last seen with Cassim waving farewell to the newly-wed Aladdin and Jasmine as they ride off to the night.

Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your DreamsEdit

With his travels with Cassim at the end, Iago has returned to Agrabah and appears as a supporting character in the straight-to-DVD movie Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams,[11] and he performs a musical number called "Peacock Princess" with Princess Jasmine in her princess duties.

Kingdom HeartsEdit

In the video game Kingdom Hearts, he is initially Jafar's sidekick, but then later is used by the player to assist in defeating Jafar. His Japanese voice actor in Kingdom Hearts is Akira Kamiya, and his voice actor in Kingdom Hearts II is Tōru Ōkawa. Gilbert Gottfried reprises his role in the English versions of both games.

In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories he makes a brief cameo appearance during the Boss battle against Jafar's genie form. During the battle, attacking Jafar has no effect. Rather, the lamp must be hit which is held up high by Iago, à la The Return Of Jafar. It can therefore be assumed that Iago is on the side of the good guys again.

In Kingdom Hearts II, like in The Return of Jafar, Iago leaves Jafar and returns to Agrabah in a slump after failing to make amends to Aladdin and Jasmine. When he unintentionally assisted Sora in the task of beating the Heartless and retrieving Jafar's lamp, he manages to gain everyone's trust. But that trust is soon shattered when Iago is forced to help Jafar yet again in keeping Sora and the others occupied at the ruins. Despite losing faith, Iago redeems himself by intentionally getting shot by a spell that Jafar intended to shoot at Aladdin. After Jafar's defeat, Iago reveals he wants to help Aladdin out, but can't do as much as Genie and the others. However, Sora tells Iago that friendship is about enjoying each other's company and having fun.

Aladdin (2019)Edit

Iago appears in the 2019 live-action Aladdin, voiced by Alan Tudyk.[12] It marks the first time Iago is voiced by someone other than Gilbert Gottfried as on December 20, 2018, Gottfried said he was not asked to reprise the role. While his role remains the same and he still shows signs of sentience and a cynical sense of humor, he is notably less anthropomorphic than his animated counterpart as the film wanted to make Iago more realistic. This still manages to leave only a few plot-related deviations:

  • He first appears during the song "Arabian Nights", where Rajah slashes him with his claws for spying on Jasmine, then he flies to the Cave of Wonders to be with Jafar.
  • He later appears in Jafar's lair in the castle dungeon. After Jafar talks to the Sultan, Iago mimics Jafar saying "remember your place", after which Jafar threatens the bird if he says it again; this is ironic, however, as Jafar hates being called second and is only mildly annoyed with Iago saying it.
  • He's later enlarged and piloted by Jafar in order to retrieve the lamp from Aladdin, Jasmine and Abu; he succeeds only for a mere moment before being transformed back to a normal parrot, though he succeeds again with Jafar's help.

Other appearancesEdit

Like most characters from Disney's animated films, Iago made recurring appearances on Disney's House of Mouse, he also sings "A Parrot's Life For Me" at the House of Mouse where the movies' continuity did not seem to matter, and Iago was depicted as either Jafar's sidekick or exhibiting his protagonist behavior.

At Walt Disney World, along with Zazu from The Lion King, he was introduced as one of the hosts of The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) in 1998. Following a small fire in 2011, the two were removed as the attraction reverted to its earlier format as Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. Reports had described the 1998 format as "unpopular" and Iago as "annoying".[13][14]

Iago also appears in the stage adaptation of the film. However, unlike his film counterpart, he is portrayed as a human, working as a personal assistant to Jafar.[15]

Iago appears in season six of Once Upon a Time: however, this version is a non-anthropomorphic red cockatiel as opposed to a macaw.

ReceptionEdit

In reviews for The Return of Jafar Iago was often described as being the real star of the film: "The plot thickens when Aladdin becomes indebted to Jafar's former partner, Iago (a wisecracking parrot), for saving his life. Struggling with issues of honesty and loyalty, Iago becomes the film's focus as he grapples between standing by Aladdin or succumbing to Jafar's evil pressures."[16]

In popular cultureEdit

Iago's ability of mimicking voices (e.g., Aladdin) was referenced during a sketch entitled the "Real Housewives of Disney" in an episode of Saturday Night Live.[17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Kelly-Ann Franklin (July 13, 2011). "Comedian who voiced Aflac duck coming to Mohegan Sun". The Bulletin. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  2. ^ John Musker, Ron Clements (2004). Aladdin: Platinum Edition (Disc 2) (DVD). Walt Disney Home Video.
  3. ^ Pop Up Fun Facts. [DVD]. Aladdin Platinum Edition Disc 1: Walt Disney Home Video. 2004.
  4. ^ "About Gilbert". GilbertGottfried.com. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  5. ^ Burger, David (August 5, 2011). "Interview with Gilbert Gottfried, performing in Utah this weekend". The Salt Lake Tribute. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  6. ^ "What to read, what art to see and what concerts to go to this week". Las Vegas Weekly. August 3, 2011. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  7. ^ "The Man Behind Iago Enjoying a Grate Career". Philadelphia Daily News. June 30, 1994. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  8. ^ TOP PICKS: Animated sidekicks Archived 2010-06-26 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Aladdin 2: The Return Of Jafar / Aladdin 3: Aladdin And The King Of Thieves (2-Pack) - DVD review (1 of 2)". Dvdtown.com. 2005-01-18. Archived from the original on 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  10. ^ Aladdin - Episode 53 - When Chaos Comes Calling approx. 4 mins in.
  11. ^ "DVD Review: Disney Princess Enchanted Tales - Follow Your Dreams". The Trades. 2007-09-04. Archived from the original on 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  12. ^ Parker, Ryan (March 12, 2019). "'Aladdin': Alan Tudyk to Voice Iago (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 13, 2019. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  13. ^ Levine, Arthur (July 28, 2011). "Disney World Show is for the Birds". About.com. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  14. ^ TBO.com Staff (July 3, 2011). "Theme parks adding rides". The Tampa Tribune. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  15. ^ Marks, Peter (March 20, 2014). ""Aladdin" opens on Broadway". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 19, 2018. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  16. ^ Sinclair, Dawn (May 20, 1994). "Disney's 'Return of Jafar' a Nimble Follow-Up to 'Aladdin'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 17, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  17. ^ Friar, Christine (March 4, 2012). "The Real Housewives Of Disney: 'SNL' Pitches A New Bravo Series (VIDEO)". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on March 10, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012.