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netribution > features > interview with roy disney > page two

This is probably a common question but what would you put down as the secret of Disney's success?
Great story telling I think. Great stories, great characters, great music - it's a lot of things, music is an amazing part of people's memories of film. When you play 'when you wish upon a star' it conjures up a whole movie for you and The Lion King is like that as well - it’s a lot of things. We have such a tremendous tradition of what was done in the past, it kinda looks over our shoulder and says 'this is what you have to live up to - be this good, be this good.'

Do you feel uncle Walt is peering over your shoulder too?
We try not to think that way to often because I think it hurt us in the years right after he died, a lot of people didn't know what to do without him - thinking, 'would Walt like this?'. I think we are past that point now but we can laugh at it, 'boy, am I glad he's not looking at this!' (laughs)

You mentioned earlier that you make films about what you like, can I ask what you like?
I like comedy. I like to go into a theatre and sit back and relax, not have to many heavy social messages crammed down my throat and if so I'd like to be entertained by that too. I'd like to understand that if people have problems that they have funny sides and sad sides, I want a picture with memorable characters in. I find a lot of disaster movies, shoot-em-ups and exploding planet movies don't really work that way for me, I'd rather be entertained by something small and charming than by someone blowing up the world - unless it's funny! (laughter)

What was it like to grow up in Walt's shadow?
I never thought about it very much because I never had an ambition to be in this business, I grew up near Lockheed aircraft company, planes flew over our heads all day long - I fell in love with planes. I went all the way through college trying to be an engineer so that I could design them, not a successful career path for me and, just by happenstance, I ended up at Disney. I was not an artist so I didn't have that compulsion to draw but I found my way into the business by way of nature movies - turned out to be the greatest film school you could have gone to. We'd go out with a 16mm camera and an endless supply of film and literally shoot pictures of animals for months and months throughout the seasons. Many of the movies involved the birth and growing up of different animals, we'd take that back to the studio and they'd have to try to make a story out of it. The craft of story telling was implicit in everything we did, the look of the film, how we did this or that etc.

Do you have any regrets about not pursuing your passion for aircraft?
Not a bit. Although I got my pilot license at 16, I've flown all my life and I really would rather have been a pilot than a designer.

Do you still fly?
I don't but we still have a plane so I get to sit in front with the guys.

What can we expect from Disney in the next few years?
Well we've got a pipeline of animated films, the next film is out next week in the States, it's The Emperor's New Groove David Spade, John Goodman and Ertha Kitt as the 3 main voices. Very funny movie, I'm delighted with it and it's a little out of the Disney box in the sense that it feels more like a Saturday Night Live piece than a Disney movie. David Spade is the emperor of a little South American country and Ertha Kitt is a witch doctor trying to get him out of the way so that she can be emperor, she accidentally turns him into a llama by mistake instead of killing him. So, to turn back into a human he's gotta become a good guy - he was the most selfish person before. Suddenly becoming a helpless llama in the middle of the Andes he's helped by a very nice peasant man - John Goodman, It’s a truly delightful story. Next spring/summer we've got a great big animated movie called Atlantis with Michael J Fox and James Garner playing the 2 leads. Its shot in Cinemascope, think of it as a sort of Indiana Jones adventure movie, we go to the sea floor and find the lost city of Atlantis - marvellous looking movie. After that there's another Pixar movie coming out in September or October of next year, it's called Monsters Incorporated.

What's it about?
We saw that a couple of months ago in a very, very rough state and I literally did not stop laughing for an hour and ten minutes. It's about the monsters that live behind your closet door when you were a kid, they come out at night in the darkness and scare you to death - it's about what they do when they go back behind the closet door. There's another world back there where they live, they have homes and get in the car to go to the work in the morning - coming to scare you. They are all different types, John Goodman's in that one too with Billy Crystal as the sidekick scary guy. It's really very funny, it's about a little girl who finds herself in the monster's world - she becomes a big problem for them!

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