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The Disney Villains - The Next Generation
Andreas Deja is the studio's new "villainmeister"
Dan Scapperotti
With the resurgence of Disney animation, a new breed of animators is following the footsteps of the studio's legendary nine old men. Among these is Andreas Deja, who has been described by producer Don Hahn as the studio's reigning villainmeister. The German-born animator was profoundly affected by Walt Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK when he saw the film at age 11. He decided animation would be his career. He wrote to the studio and quickly realized that you didn't become an animator by sending in drawings of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. You first became an artist. Master animator Eric Larson encouraged the young art student, and Deja found his life-long ambition fulfilled when he started work at the Disney Studios in August 1980. The studio was just finishing THE FOX AND THE HOUND when Deja arrived. "I was fresh off the boat, basically, and I had a job at Disney," he remembers. "When I started there I expected to be an assistant for 20 years or so to somebody like Frank Thomas or Ollie Johnston, so it was a shock to see that all the old guys were gone and it was really just us left." Design work on the studio's next feature, THE BLACK CAULDRON, hadn't begun so they assigned Deja to work with a young animator named Tim Burton. "They told me that Tim had this funky drawing style," Deja continues, "and maybe the two of us could work out something unique for THE BLACK CAULDRON. I worked with Tim for almost a year in the old animation building. It didn't work out, because they didn't go for Tim's quirky style. So Tim left, and I stayed on and animated on that movie and all the ones after that." While the young animator has worked on several characters at the studio – including Bianca, Bernard, Oliver, and the Mouse that started it al – he has found his niche on the wrong side of the tracks. Deja has been animating the current crop of Disney cartoon bad guys. The first of these was boisterous Gaston from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. "I had a little bit of a problem on Gaston," he admits. "I didn't quite have a hold on the character early on. I saw the storyboards and heard Richard White's voice. I thought Gaston was very beefy with a square jaw, and he looked like a cartoon character. So I did a test of the opening sequence where he is singing to the crowd, and the directors loved it. I thought I was onto something. I gave him a big jaw and a slightly cartoony mustache. When Jeffrey Katzenberg saw that he said, 'The animation is fine, but he just doesn't look handsome.' Handsome!? He's the villain. He said. 'No, I want the girls in the audience to swoon over him.' He then explained that this movie wasn't about Beauty and the Beast; it was really about 'don't judge the book by the cover' – the physical appearance doesn't matter. It's inner quality that matters. So you have the beast who is hideous and ugly and scary, and you find out he has a heart of gold. On the other hand, you have Gaston who's handsome and looks like the hero, but he's a real son of a bitch and stupid and a chauvinist. Finally I got it. And I went back and beautified Gaston." […]



Source type Magazine
Volume 2.1
Language en
Document type Interview
Media type text
Page count 2
Pages pp. 38-39


Id 3336
Availability Free
Inserted 2017-06-30