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Jafar was formerly a human man who was later turned into a genie.
Originally the malevolent and sorcerous Grand Vizier of Agrabah, Jafar, defeated by Aladdin, ended up being turned into a powerful, but forever-bound, genie. Jafar remains active in the modern day, though he no longer has the support of his rogue of a familiar, the parrot Iago, who eventually redeemed himself (more or less) to become an adventuring companion first of Aladdin, and later of Aladdin's father Cassim.
Though he likes to be seen as a "cool, calculative mastermind" sort of evil-doer, the power-hungry Jafar is in truth a nerve-wracked, craven, vengeful mess beneath his polished façade, and has a tendency to launch into such brazen evil laughs that even Hades, God of the Underworld, thinks they're a bit much.
Behind the scenes
Based on the Sorcerer and the Grand Vizier from the original Aladdin fairy tale, Jafar first appeared as a character in the 1992 film Aladdin. According to Disney's Aladdin: The Making of an Animated Film, Jafar was defined thusly in the script: "His mind works the way he looks: all long lines and deep sharp angles".
Jafar went through many designs and personalities in development, one of which (and one of the closest ones to the final design at that) was interestingly created by Daan Jippes. To go with these various personalities, Jafar had no less than four separate villain songs written for him, only one of which made the final cut. Taking account his songs in other media, this puts Jafar at a grand total of eight villain songs, a record only threatened by Peg-Leg Pete, Captain Hook and the Mad Doctor.
Some of Jafar's mannerisms were inspired by actor Vincent Price, while others were taken straight from Jonathan Freeman, Jafar's voice actor. Interestingly, when Aladdin was made into a Broadway stage musical, the aging Freeman reprised his role, finally playing his iconic character in the flesh. On this occasion, Jafar was given yet another song, Diamond in the Rough.
Voice Actors & Portrayers
- Jonathan Freeman (classic voice actor since Aladdin; has also portrayed Jafar in the flesh, notably in Aladdin: The Musical’s original performances)
- Ethan Freeman (Aladdin: The Musical in 2015 German production)
- Don Gallagher (Aladdin: The Musical in 2016 West End production)
- Adam Murphy (Aladdin: The Musical in 2016 Australian production)
- Seth MacFarlane (parody; Aladdin IV and Aladdin V sketches on the non-Disney TV series Family Guy)
- Dylan Saunders (Twisted; parody; actually an alternate version of the character)
- Austin Scott (Counting Stars feat. Disney Villains)
- Maz Jobrani (Descendants & sequels; actually an alternate version of the character)
- Marwan Kenzari (Aladdin live-action remake; actually an alternate version of the character)