Saturday, August 31, 2019

Richard Williams

Just like all of you I was saddened to hear about the passing of Dick Williams.
This is how I remember him most, working on Who Framed Roger Rabbit. We had met before this, in LA at Academy events and film festivals. I shared Dick's profound enthusiasm for animation, and we enjoyed just talking about Disney, Warner Brothers, or the medium in general.
One day he called me and said that he might work for Disney after all. There was this high level project in development at Disney and Amblin, a combination of animation and live action. But it would have to be done in a way never attempted before.
I recall him coming to my house for dinner and telling me a little bit about the film whose main character would be an animated rabbit. Before leaving, Dick pulled out of his car's trunk a model sheet of Roger filled with his drawings. 
A few weeks later he phoned me and asked if I was interested in joining the animation crew in London to work on the film. Of course I would still be employed by Disney. Here's the thing: I said no, I had just been in LA for a few years, and that I wasn't ready to return to Europe.
I think another couple of weeks passed and animation producer Don Hahn and Dick asked me out for a Mexican dinner. I believe it was Don Cuco in Burbank. 
Anyway we had dinner and margaritas... and I signed on.
One of the best decisions I ever made regarding my professional career.

After my flight to Heathrow I was picked up by a driver, not to my new apartment, but straight to the studio in Camden. There was no time for jet is your first scene...GO!!!
It had the ostrich from Fantasia in it, interacting with Eddie Valiant. Photostats and all.
It really was the beginning of a terrific year, there was a buzz around the studio I'd never experienced before. We really were doing things that had never been done.

Here is the link to a post about that first ostrich scene:


  1. I saw an interview with Nik Ranieri in which he said how hard it was to work for Richard Williams, and I can imagine. But for us young animation students from all over the world, he was a great teacher .... and often the only one we had.

  2. What a wonderful memory of a wonderful time with such a wonderful and talented man.

  3. Yeah, I am sometimes saddened to hear of Richard Williams' passing, too. In fact, I will always and always will remember Richard Williams' work not only on Roger Rabbit, but also on his unfinished Arabian nights-inspired animated epic The Thief and the Cobbler among other things he does, like commercials, titles for two of the Pink Panther movies from the 70s, or even a half hour wordless short that he did in 1958 called the Little Island, for instance. May he rest in peace.

  4. My friends from Nemo Academy were trying to bring him to Florence for their Nemoland award. Myself and Francesco, one of the owners of Nemo, had lunch with him and his wife in Annecy and it looked like it could happen. I was planing to do something when he got on the stage before the beginning of the workshop. Richard told of the time Milt Kahl visited his studio. When Milt arrived, Richard ran to meet him, kneeled down and started to shine his shoes as to show respect for the great animator. I was planing to do just that on the day of the workshop, it would be an honor and he would have got a kick out of that. I am sad I missed my chance

  5. I was lucky enough to meet Mr.Williams 2 or 3 times, and his enthusiasm was super infectious! The first time was at an event for his 80th birthday, and he was STILL all excited and awed, talking about Shere Khan. Even though at the time his own work was mega-advanced in his own way.
    What an honour to meet a real master like that

  6. Hey Andreas, I just stumbled upon this tape on ebay, that's an interview with you and Marc Davis. Can you tell us a little more about it, or maybe you have a copy yourself?