Eric Goldberg
Photo: Noell Wolfgram Evans
Noell Wolfgram Evans · September 5, 2004 | Eric Goldberg is the happy man of animation. Mr. Goldberg, an animator and director, is a man who loves life, animation, to draw, to laugh and to entertain. And it all comes through in his work. He's provided animation on two of Disney's most laugh-out-loud, entertaining films: Aladdin (1992) and Hercules (1997) and helped Bugs Bunny and his friends have the most fun they've had in years with his work on 2003's Looney Tunes: Back in Action. He not only animated the "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Carnival of Animals" sequences in Fantasia 2000, but he also made a personal appearance in the live-action sections.

Mr. Goldberg was an award-winning animator cranking out commercials at Pizazz in the UK when Disney came calling in 1990. With an interest in getting back to feature films (he had previously worked on Richard Williams's Raggedy Ann & Andy), a serious love of comedy and a desire to work at The House of Mouse (perhaps every animator's secret dream), Mr. Goldberg jumped the pond.

His first assignment at Disney was to be no small task: He was asked to animate the Genie in Aladdin. When he joined the production team there were already some notions on what the Genie should look like. There was this thought that the Genie should be a giant Douglas Fairbanks-style strongman, but Mr. Goldberg had other thoughts. The result, a collaboration of Mr. Goldberg's pencil and Robin Williams' vocal work, is a thoroughly unique creation. It's a comedy routine come to blazing light, a fast and furious animated force that provides something new with every viewing. What's impressive about the Genie, though, is that he's a fully realized character. Where it would have been easy to make him simply a joke machine, Mr. Goldberg was able to give his posturing a certain soulful touch. In a physical sense, although the Genie has a light and wispy quality, he moves around this solid center, which gives him a certain grounding. Although there aren't many of them, in the Genie's few quiet moments there is an amazing beat of tenderness and heart. There is a way that he looks at himself and breathes that gives you a glimpse at his soul.

Disney has recently released Aladdin on a spectacular two-disc DVD. On the occasion of this release I had an opportunity to talk about the movie and animation with Mr. Goldberg.
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