Beat - April 1995
Jon's Wish Comes True!A big blue genie and a series called Disney's Aladdin has made Jonathan Brandis' wish to play a bad guy come true!
seaQuest DSV star Jonathan Brandis has never been afraid to try new roles. Over the span of his life-long career, he's played heroes and nerds, princes and street kids; he's even been brave enough to dress up as a girl for the film Ladybugs. There's just one thing in common with all the roles Jonathan's played-they've all been good guys! Jonathan has often wished that someone would hire him to play someone really bad. Now, the animated television series Disney's Aladdin has granted his wish!
These days, Jonathan is getting a chance to start some diabolical schemes as he plays the voice of the evil 'Mozenrath.' a recurring villain on the new series Disney's Aladdin. In upcoming episodes this handsome but crafty teenage wizard "conjures up enough trouble to make Aladdin's life a living hell," promises Jonathan.
However, making the jump from live actor on seaQuest to cartoon voice on Aladdin wasn't without its own hellish moments. "Being in a cartoon is a totally new experience for me," Jonathan explains. "It was difficult to get used to. Many of the actors working on Aladdin have been doing this for years. With cartoons, you're giving your character a voice, but you dont have a physical body to work with. I felt like I was creating Mozenrath from air."
Jonathan also had some difficulty learning to act just with his voice, not with his whole body. "at first, I found myself doing a lot of body movement with the voice, and the director had to tell me to stand still because my face kept bumping the microphone!" he says with a laugh. "Or I would get too close to the mike which would make my lines really loud."
The fast pace of recording an animated series is also much different than his experiences playing 'Lucas' on seaQuest DSV. "For one episode, you're in the recording booth for maybe 45 minutes taping your lines, instead of days on the set," he explains.
Despite the quickness of the work, Jonathan feels that by playing Mozenrath, he's learning some valuable acting lessons. "You're getting to really focus on that one part of the acting process. Plus, it's a great workout for your voice," he says. "Breaking down every syllable in order to play a cartoon characters voice gives you the chance to really study yourself."
The Disney animators (who Jonathan calls "geniuses") took the opportunity to study Jonathan too! They made a careful survey of Jonathan's looks and movements, then they redesigned the teenage Mozenrath to look and walk more like the seaQuest star.
In addition to his respect for the animators, this 19-year old actor has many words and praise for his new bosses at Disney. In the casting of Scott Weinger in both the movie and TV versions of Aladdin, Jonathan Taylor Thomas as the pre-teen 'Simba' in The Lion King, and now Jonathan as Mozenrath, the Disney executives have created more opportunities for kids to play kids. "Usually in cartoons, the actors providing the voices are much older than the young characters they are playing," says Jonathan. "I like Aladdin for two reasons: first, it's a great cartoon, and second, there are kids playing kids which rarely happens."
Catch Disney's Aladdin week-days in syndication on the Disney Afternoon or Saturday mornings on CBS!
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