Ooh! A piece of trivia! These thirteen things about Disney’s Hercules will have you praising the gods, Or cursing us to Hades. Either way, we aren’t speaking Greek here.

13. The role of Hades is one of James Woods’ all-time favorite characters. So much so, any time Disney needs him to reprise the character for any cartoon show and video game, such as Hercules: The Series or Kingdom Hearts, he has agreed to do so. When this film was about to go over-budget, he offered to refund his salary and finish the film for free. Disney decided against this, and finished the film anyway.

12. Hades was scripted as a slow, menacing character until James Woods took the role and impressed the crew with his rapid-fire style. Even after the script was rewritten, Woods ad-libbed many lines.

11. The animators spent 6 to 14 hours to render a frame of the Hydra, depending on how many heads it had.

10. The Spice Girls were originally approached to portray the Muses following an invitation to sing one of the songs, but declined the offer due to scheduling conflicts.

9. Early into production, the filmmakers decided the Hydra would ultimately have thirty heads by which the animators created one master head, and the computer could multiply the heads to their desired scale. Overall, thirteen animators and technical directors spent nearly a year-and-a-half creating the four-minute battle sequence.

8. Due to backlash against the previous two Disney releases of Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules was released to lighten things up. The major criticisms of the two films were that they were “too dark” and dealt with “serious issues” that Disney shouldn’t use in their animated films.

7. The film’s interpretation of the character of Hades is said to be based on Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, who left the Walt Disney Company on bad terms to form DreamWorks Pictures.

6. Directors John Musker and Ron Clements envisioned Mount Olympus as a city composed of clouds. In order for the animators to achieve the directors’ vision, the painted backgrounds of clouds and cloud-like imagery were blended with hand-drawn effects animation to create a morphing technique that were used for baby Hercules’ cradle and Zeus’ reclining chair.

5. A sequel was planned starring the children of Hercules and Meg, which was scrapped along with many other sequels after John Lasseter became CEO of both Disney and Pixar.

4. Scar makes a cameo in this film as a pelt. This could be a built in joke from The Lion King as Zazu joked Scar would make a good throw rug.

3. The promotional ads featured Hades saying “Two thumbs way way up”. Film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel complained, pointing out that “Two Thumbs Up” is a phrase uniquely invented and trademarked by them, and the use of it in promotional ads implied that the film had received “Two Thumbs Up” when only Ebert gave it a favorable review. Ebert thought the ad was misleading and unfair and asked that the line be removed from the ads, while Siskel quipped that they ought to make it “Two Thumbs Down.”

2. “Hades’ line “…hey, you, get off my cloud’, when telling the Sisters of Fate about Zeus, is part of the chorus off The Rolling Stones” single of the same phrase.

1. Despite the positive critical reception, the film under-performed in its theatrical release notably in comparison to its predecessors before ultimately earning $252.7 million in box office revenue worldwide.

Hercules (1997)

G | 1h 33min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy | 27 June 1997 (USA)

The son of Zeus and Hera is stripped of his immortality as an infant and must become a true hero in order to reclaim it.

Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker

Writers: Ron Clements (animation screenplay by), John Musker (animation screenplay by)

Stars: Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, James Woods

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