WALT Disney’s movies are all about magic, but the iconic characters are more grounded in reality than people realise.
From Tom Cruise to Alyssa Milano, these are the celebs and acting stars who inspired your favourite Disney characters…
Disney animators sought inspiration from a confident leading man for Princess Jasmine’s love interest – and thought Tom Cruise was the natural choice.
The lovable rogue was originally modelled on Michael J Fox in Back To The Future, but he was dismissed as “too cutesy”.
The sketch artists added a few years to his age and removed his shirt, and the Cruise-inspired Aladdin was born.
‘There’s a confidence with all of his attitudes and his poses," lead animator Glen Keane said of Tom Cruise.
Producers thought child actress Alyssa Milano was a match ‘mer-maid’ in heaven for Ariel.
The Who’s The Boss? star was 17 when The Little Mermaid came out in 1989, but she had no idea she had inspired the character.
Appearing on the Wendy Williams show in 2013, she said: “I didn’t know that when it was going on.
“But they asked me to host ‘The Making of The Little Mermaid’, and it came out there that the drawing and likeness of the little mermaid was based on pictures of me from when I was younger.”
Ursula the Sea Witch, from The Little Mermaid, has a very realistic inspiration – iconic drag queen Divine.
Real name Harris Glenn Milstead, the larger-than-life character was once dubbed Drag Queen of the Century by People magazine.
“It just fit the character,” director Ron Clements told SBS . “She was outrageous, theatrical…”
Beauty And The Beast heroine Belle was voiced by Paige O’Hara, but actress Sherri Stoner was the one to pantomime her actions.
Disney employ live action models to act out their scripts, and help create a life-life character.
Sherri also helped inspire Arial – by swimming in a water tank. She went on to be a writer and producer in Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.
Jungle Book’s creators wanted The Beatles to voice the Vultures who befriend Mowgli.
Conflicting schedules, as well as John Lennon’s reluctance, put a spanner in the plans.
But the feathered foursome still bare a striking resemblance to the legendary band.
Native American actress Irene Bedard was not only the voice for 1995 film Pocahontas – the princess’ actions and gestures are also based on her.
The Alaskan actress has also starred in Smoke Signals and Into The West.
Marge Champion danced in several Disney movies – providing life-like actions for the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, the hippo in Fantasia and Mr Stork in Dumbo.
But she played her most key role in the animation of Snow White where her acting, as well as her dancing, informed the princess’ character.
Marge went on to become one of the most successful dancers of the 20th century.
Robin Williams famously voiced the Genie in Aladdin, but many people don’t realise how far his inspiration went.
John Clements and Ron Musker wanted the Mrs Doubtfire actor on board so much that they made their blue hero look and act like him.
Many of the Genie’s best lines were improvised by the late actor.
Actress Margaret Kelly played the hotheaded fairy Tinkerbell in Peter Pan.
Disney bosses provided her with oversized props like a keyhole and scissors, which also made their way into the main movie.
Actress Eleanor Audley provides the voice for Madame Leota in The Haunted Mansion rides at Disney’s many theme parks.
But she also worked as an animator and live action model for both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
In these roles, she was the inspiration for Lady Tremaine and Maleficent.
Busy bee Helene Stanley was an action model for both Cinderella and Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
She also voiced Anita Radcliffe in 101 Dalmations.
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