Iago (Disney character)
|Disney's Aladdin character|
Iago during one of his angrier moments
|First appearance||Aladdin (1992)|
|Created by||Will Finn
|Voiced by||Gilbert Gottfried|
Iago is a fictional supporting character in the animated Aladdin films and television series produced by The Walt Disney Company. He is voiced by Gilbert Gottfried and appeared in the first film as the sidekick to the main antagonist Jafar, and later becomes one of the protagonists for the rest of the franchise's run. The red-plumed talking bird is an apparent homage to an identically-named red parrot in the Tintin adventure The Castafiore Emerald.
- 1 Development
- 2 Personality traits
- 3 Appearances
- 4 Reception
- 5 In popular culture
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Iago had been originally conceived as a "British" calm and serious character, but was reworked into a comic role after the filmmakers saw Gilbert Gottfried in Beverly Hills Cop II and Gottfried was cast to provide Iago's voice. Iago's animator Will Finn tried to incorporate some aspects of Gottfried's appearance into Iago's design, especially his semi-closed eyes and the always-appearing teeth.
Gilbert Gottfried has said that his voiceover career really began after voicing the character in the 1992 film. “... that has been one of those things that lives on,” he said. “That seemed to open the door for other voiceover jobs.”  
Gottfried's unique onstage persona led to him being cast as the wise-cracking Iago. Gottfried is often referred to as "the Iago guy" and similar terms, being more known by his voice role than by name.
Iago resembles a scarlet macaw, though smaller in size and with shorter feathers while retaining the blue tipped wing feathers, blue tail, and white around the eyes. He can speak fluent English and has the ability to perfectly mimic other characters' voices. He also possesses knowledge of various tricks learned from Jafar. He is easily frustrated and openly vocalizes his frustrations, and avoids direct confrontations if he can help it, but when required, he can be quite cunning and mischievous.
Iago is also known for his notorious greed of treasure and gold, for which he will go to outlandish lengths to acquire, usually dragging along Abu to help him, but Abu's incompetence always costs him. Iago is often put in situations of deciding between saving his own tailfeathers or doing the right thing. His guilt always leads him to do the latter, usually costing him some form of reward or riches, for which he always berates himself afterward.
His name is a reference to Shakespeare's play Othello. In the play, the main character Othello has a sidekick named Iago he believes to be trustworthy. All Shakespeare's Iago cares about is getting himself ahead and his own selfish wants. He ends up creating a devious scheme to find a way to get what he wants and ends up surprising Othello when he betrays him.
According to a piece of conversation in The Return of Jafar, Jafar had picked up Iago in Agrabah's bazaar and reared him as his accomplice in crime. In the first movie he resents living under the Sultan and Jasmine as much as his owner Jafar does, though he contrasts Jafar's dark brooding with angry, sarcastic ranting. Iago often says how he hates crackers which the Sultan always gives him. The Sultan seems to not know until the end of the first movie that Iago can fully comprehend and converse in human speech and is evil. In the end, Iago is dragged into Jafar's lamp with him at the end of the movie and is banished to the Cave of Wonders.
The Return of Jafar
Having escaped from the lamp, Iago switches sides, mostly because he is fed up with being pushed around by Jafar. Over the course of the film, Iago slowly warms to the idea of friendship after Aladdin saves him from the Sultan's wrath in return for Iago unintentionally saving him from Abis Mal, and finally risks his life to kill Jafar by pushing his lamp into molten lava expiring Jafar's tyranny once and for all. Following his heroic deed, he is welcomed into Aladdin's extended family. In the film, Iago performed the song "I'm Looking Out for Me."
Aladdin TV series
In the series he provides a sarcastic, realistic, or cowardly perspective on events and is only really willing to face danger if great reward is promised. However, he is sometimes forced to battle his conscience, and generally does the right thing even when he doesn't have to; when Sadira used a memory sand that somehow caused her and Jasmine to switch lives, with Iago, Abu and Rajah the only ones unaffected, Iago led the three animals in finding Jasmine to restore the world to normal when he could have just as easily left the city altogether. Iago's common schemes involve trying to sell anything with any value (real or not), trying to steal things, and trying to treasure-hunt. He can usually convince Abu to be his partner in crime, but Abu is more likely to leave at the first sign of danger and often lacks the finesse that Iago requires. He and the rain-bird Thundra had feelings for one another, although Iago was hesitant at first, admitting his manipulative personality made appealing to others difficult. Aladdin has occasionally exploited this, since antagonists are more willing to accept Iago as being more ruthless and amoral than he actually is. Like Genie, Iago commonly references modern things for humor, even though he does not have a logical excuse like Genie does. Additionally, due to his time with Jafar, Iago possesses extensive knowledge of various magicks, which proves useful as Genie's otherwise superior knowledge is ten thousand years out of date-in the "Kingdom of the Black Sand" it is Iago who recognized the Kingdom and its former ruler Destane. In one episode he mentions that he has a brother named Othello; a reference to the play where his name may have come from. An in-joke on an episode of the TV animated series has Iago running in panic after his face is turned into that of Gilbert Gottfried. As a comic relief sidekick Iago is always good for a laugh-in one episode when Genie gave Iago his powers just for one day, Iago tried to do a good deed for Agrabah by bring water to the desert-but as usual his plans backfire on him. One secret that Iago knows of Genie is that once Genie used his own magic to make himself a sundae ice cream as big as a pyramid-something that Genie dares not let the Genie Guild know about!
Aladdin and the King of Thieves
He has a supporting role in Aladdin and the King of Thieves, where he helps out with Aladdin and Jasmine's wedding, as well as aiding Aladdin to find his estranged father Cassim, who happens to be the King of the Forty Thieves. Acting on behalf for Aladdin, Iago convinces Cassim to attend the wedding, promising that he will help him get the Hand of Midas. In the end, Iago chooses to depart Agrabah with Cassim instead of staying with Aladdin and Jasmine on the grounds that he could not handle the "lovey-dovey" stuff. He also points out that Cassim's sense of thievery is more in line with his as well. However, Iago does promise to visit the couple frequently. He is last seen with Cassim waving farewell to the newly-wed Aladdin and Jasmine as they ride off to the night.
Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams
Iago appears as a supporting character in the straight-to-DVD movie Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams and he performs a musical number called "Peacock Princess" with Princess Jasmine.
In the video game Kingdom Hearts, he is initially Jafar's sidekick, but then later is used by the player to assist in defeating Jafar. His Japanese voice actor in Kingdom Hearts is Akira Kamiya, and his voice actor in Kingdom Hearts II is Tōru Ōkawa. Gilbert Gottfried reprises his role in the English versions of both games.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories he makes a brief cameo appearance during the Boss battle against Jafar's genie form. During the battle, attacking Jafar has no effect. Rather, the lamp must be hit which is held up high by Iago, à la The Return Of Jafar. It can therefore be assumed that Iago is on the side of the good guys again.
In Kingdom Hearts II, like in The Return of Jafar, Iago leaves Jafar and returns to Agrabah in a slump after failing to make amends to Aladdin and Jasmine. When he unintentionally assisted Sora in the task of beating the Heartless and retrieving Jafar's lamp, he manages to gain everyone's trust. But that trust is soon shattered when Iago is forced to help Jafar yet again in keeping Sora and the others occupied at the ruins. Despite losing faith, Iago redeems himself by intentionally getting shot by a spell that Jafar intended to shoot at Aladdin. After Jafar's defeat, Iago reveals he wants to help Aladdin out, but can't do as much as Genie and the others. However, Sora tells Iago that friendship is about enjoying each other's company and having fun.
Like most characters from Disney's animated films, Iago made recurring appearances on Disney's House of Mouse, he also sings "A Parrot's Life For Me" at the House of Mouse where the movies' continuity did not seem to matter, and Iago was depicted as either Jafar's sidekick or exhibiting his protagonist behavior.
At Walt Disney World, along with Zazu from The Lion King, he was introduced as one of the hosts of The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) in 1998. Following a small fire in 2011, the two were removed as the attraction reverted to its earlier format as Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. Reports had described the 1998 format as "unpopular" and Iago as "annoying".
Iago also appears in the stage adaptation of the film. However, unlike his film counterpart, he (like many animal creatures from the original film) is portrayed as a human, working as a personal assistant to Jafar.
In reviews for The Return of Jafar Iago was often described as being the real star of the film: "The plot thickens when Aladdin becomes indebted to Jafar's former partner, Iago (a wisecracking parrot), for saving his life. Struggling with issues of honesty and loyalty, Iago becomes the film's focus as he grapples between standing by Aladdin or succumbing to Jafar's evil pressures."
In popular culture
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- Pop Up Fun Facts. [DVD]. Aladdin Platinum Edition Disc 1: Walt Disney Home Video. 2004.
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- TOP PICKS: Animated sidekicks
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