[INTERVIEW] Make Way For Prince Ali! Scott Weinger Visits With ILID

This week, fans across Texas received the devastating news that Dallas Fan Festival is now the latest entertainment victim claimed by Covid. After Fan Expo was postponed (and later canceled), many people held onto the hope that they would have a chance to see some of the scheduled talent appear at Fan Festival in October. Unfortunately, 2020 had different plans...again. One of the actors from this year's Fan Expo guest list was Aladdin and Full(er) House star Scott Weinger. While the magic carpet will no longer be carrying Aladdin to Dallas, we do have some good news. We were able to speak with Scott about his career and Disney memories before the Fan Expo cancellation. Obviously, our exclusive interview can't take the place of getting to meet him in person, but hopefully it will bring a bit of the anticipated Con to your living room. In the meantime, we will be searching for a lamp and wishing to see the return of Scott and Fan Expo Dallas again next spring!

Many fans know you as Steve, others know you as Aladdin. Which of the two do you see yourself more as?

Oh, that’s really funny; it’s hard to say. I’ve been playing both of those characters since I was a teenager and now, I’m an old man. I feel like I identify very much with both of them. It’s hard to imagine that all these years later that they both come up. They’re both a big part of my life, you know? It’s hard to say. Up until two months ago I was literally still playing Steve. Every day I would go into the studio and get a script for the role of Steve. I still go into the studio and record projects for Aladdin, too. But, as far as which character I identify with most? It’s hard to say. I will say that the character of Aladdin has a lot of universal qualities that people can relate to, that I can relate to. He is an underdog aiming high. I feel like anybody who comes to Hollywood to try to make it in showbusiness, whether as a writer or an actor, they’re an underdog. It takes a lot of luck to succeed there, sometimes in the form of a genie and sometimes in other ways like a lucky meeting with somebody or an audition that goes well. When it comes to Aladdin, by the way, I auditioned by mainlining in a tape. I recorded a tape with my mom playing the genie, we mailed it into California, and I got the part! So, that’s a little bit of luck right there.

Definitely! Speaking of genies, if you had three wishes what would they be?

Well, I think I’d have to spend the first one on this whole Coronavirus thing and put it in the book. It’s making life a little bit less fun for a lot of people. Now that I’m a dad and husband, I think most of my wishes would be very boring wishes, like for the health of my family and everything. But I wouldn’t mind a flying car to get around that L.A. traffic!

I get that; Dallas traffic isn’t much better. Looking at your wife’s twitter, it would seem that she has accepted the fact that she is the “wife of Aladdin”. On the other hand, your son is growing older now. Has he started to realize the pros and cons of being the “son of Aladdin”?

I think that he like it and that he thinks it’s pretty cool. We’ve had a lot of really great experiences at Disneyland because of it. He’s much older now, but when he was five or six years old there was an amazing event that took place on the Disney lot when the executives were getting ready to promote Aladdin coming out of the vault and onto Blu ray. We were talking about it and they said, “Is your son excited to see it like that?” I said, “Well, he’s never really seen it before.” Their jaws dropped. They couldn’t believe that my son hadn’t! He was just getting to the right age where he could really enjoy and appreciate it, so they had this amazing idea. They threw a huge party on the Walt Disney Studios lot where they had a huge Arabian Nights themed carnival. All of his friends came and they had a private screening. It was incredible! It was a really cool experience and I think it was a great way to introduce him, letting him know that Dad’s kind of a big deal.

Kudos to Disney on giving your son a mini-premier for him and a great way to add some brownie points to Dad as well. As far as acting goes, you’ve managed to shy away from the spotlight a bit over the past decade or so. Now, with the resurgence of Aladdin and Fuller House, you have been thrown right back in the mix. How has that transition gone for you and your family?

It’s funny you should ask. When my wife and I got together all those years ago, I had left acting behind with the exception of a recording session every once in a while. I was a writer, fully immersed in my new career as a television writer. When this thing came along, it was a big adjustment. From getting stopped on the street by fans to watching me smooch DJ, there were a lot of things to adjust to. Then, my son and his friends all became big fans of the show, so it was on at our house all of the time. It quickly became a big part of our lives. You mentioned my wife’s twitter account. Her favorite thing she always said is, “I married a writer. I didn’t marry an actor.” She learned to love the change. You’ve got to enjoy it and I think she knew how much joy being back in front of the camera and acting again brought me. It was a surprise and she fully got behind it. I do think she’s glad I’m back to writing and that life is getting back to normal, at least a little bit anyway.

It’s awesome that she was so supportive and good with all of the changes. You have done a ton of voicework for Aladdin in various video games like the Kingdom of Hearts series and Disney Infinity. Do you ever play any of those games?

It’s funny; I haven’t been a big videogame person in my life. When I was a kid, I played Nintendo and everything, but I wasn’t a big gamer. Now, my kid is super into it. I really haven’t played any of the Aladdinbased videogames. I know people are obsessed with these games though. When I run into fans, whether it’s out on the street or at one of these conventions, they come up to me and recognize me as Aladdin from Kingdom of Hearts. You can tell that they’re freaking out, but it’s funny because I haven’t had the experience [playing the games].

In regards to experiences, you mentioned a bit of your role behind the camera. You worked as a producer on the television show Galavant. My wife and I loved that show. Please bring it back!

I wish I could! I would love to; thanks for saying that.

If it’s not coming back, could you at least give some insight into how it was supposed to end or what we could have expected?

Did you get a chance to see both seasons? We were lucky enough to do eight [episodes] one year and then we got to do ten the next.

Yes! We were pumped to watch season three and checked nightly for about a month until we learned that it hadn’t been picked up again.

We didn’t really expect it to get a season 2, but when it did, I thought, “Well, now they’ve got to get us a season 3”. I was sad it went away because I loved that experience. I don’t know if they’ll ever bring it back for TV even though it has a very strong and very vocal fan base. Someday I hope they will make it into a Broadway show or something like that. It was such an incredible experience for me to be working on a musical with some of the top talent in our nation. The creator of the show who’s a brilliant guy and one of the nicest guys around, Dan Fogelman, went on to create other shows like This Is Us. It’s funny because they are pretty different. He’s such a versatile and hardworking guy, and he’s always got a whole new project coming up.

Did you have a direction you wanted to send the show? The first one seemed to have a definitive ending. Then, it came back with the second season and left things wide open for the plot of the third season.

Yeah, it’s true. It’s funny because now that we’re talking about this, I don’t remember. I don’t think we settled on anything specific. I think, in a superstitious way, we were afraid to get too excited about any particular direction because we didn’t want to jinx it. It would have been such an amazing thing to do a third season. I think we would have spent a lot of time focusing on the character of King Richard, who emerged into such an interesting character. Then, there’s obviously Isabella. She was great and her singing voice was incredible.

I loved Luke Youngblood on it as well. I actually got to do an interview with him a while back for another Con.

Isn’t he fantastic? The funny thing is, I hadn’t watched all of the Harry Potter movies yet, so I didn’t know how excited I should be about that guy. Now, I’ve seen all of the Harry Potter movies a hundred times and it’s pretty cool that he was in there.

One of my favorite parts about Galavant was how each character developed throughout the seasons.

One of my favorite things about working on the show was when Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the lyricists, would come into the writer’s room and we would talk about ideas together. One day they called me because I had written a scene that they liked and thought would be great if it was turned into a musical theme. They said, “Do you mind if we take some of your dialogue and turn it into a song?” It was one of the coolest moments of my career. They ended up cutting the scene because it was a little too racy for network television. I said, “How could it have been too racy?” Then, they played the demo… it was racy. Maybe if we were streaming on cable we could have gotten away with it.

Going back to your early career, you’re obviously super invested in Disney. I mean, you spent a majority of your childhood there. What is your favorite Disney movie other than Aladdin?

Oh, man, that’s really tough. Let me think here… Wow, that’s a great question because I have so many that I love. If we are including Pixar, that makes it even more difficult. When I was younger, I loved Tangled, which was also written by Dan Fogelman. That was actually how he got his relationship started with Alan Menken and got Galavant created. The one that I have the greatest memories of, besides Aladdin, was The Little Mermaid. When I was about thirteen years old that movie came out and my best friend, who was obsessed with animation, said to me, “We have to go see this new movie.” I was like, “Dude, that is a girl movie. I don’t want to go see a girl movie.” He said, “Trust me.” We went and it blew my mind; it was just amazing. I’ll never forget how much I enjoyed the movie and also how much my perspective completely changed. I was embarrassed and afraid that we were going to run into friends from school. I felt ashamed for having felt that because it was such a revelation. I was so lucky that I ended up getting to work with a lot of those people. The director of The Little Mermaid also directed Aladdin and, of course, Alan Menken wrote the music for both of those movies.

I completely understand. With two young girls running around me house, The Little Mermaid plays on loop fairly often.

You could name any of those [Disney] movies and they’re all so good. I thought Beauty and the Beast was so great and I love the older classics too. I love Wreck-It-Ralph! It is one of my favorites. There are so many good ones. You know, as a dad, that you have to see all of these movies a hundred times each. The fact that you’re not throwing yourself out of a window speaks out.

You basically grew up on the Disney lot and in the Disney parks. Now that you are older, do you look back and think that you enjoyed it as much as you should have or did it kind of become a bit mundane for you?

You know what? I enjoyed the heck out of it. I was very lucky that I was seventeen years old when Aladdin came out, so I was young enough to enjoy it through the eyes of a kid and old enough to understand how lucky I was. It was the perfect age to experience all of those things. If you added up all the time that I spent down in Florida at Disney World that year, it was over two months that I spent there. It was literally a dream come true. I was at the age where I could enjoy it and also know that I was the luckiest kid ever. It wasn’t lost on me. I never took it for granted, not once.

We will close with this final question about Aladdin. I interviewed Linda Larkin, who played Jasmine in the original movie with you, and asked her about her favorite fan theory regarding the movie. Do you have a favorite?

I was with a bunch of Aladdin people last week and we got into a big metaphysical discussion about the genie. They were talking about how Robin Williams would improvise and make a bunch of contemporary references to pop culture. How is that possible if he is all the way back in Agrabah hundreds of years ago? Someone suggested that he was a time traveler. Another said, “It’s not time travel. He doesn’t exist in time. He exists outside of the rules of time.” I thought that was super cool and very deep. I had just read an Einstein biography and I thought that he would approve of that theory. Even though sometimes people’s theories may be a little crazy or completely off base, they’re not wrong for trying to find a deeper meaning in the movies. The people who make these movies are thoughtful artists and there is definitely a world where people are thinking these things. Because they are so thoughtful, there are things like deeper meanings or stuff that you don’t spot initially baked into these movies. However, I’m sure you have heard the theory that Aladdin had some kind of pornographic message whispered in a scene. To this day, I still have to go around telling people that it didn’t happen. I promise you that it is totally made up. I would have been terrified to say anything like that in a room full of grownups!