Talking animals have long been a staple of children’s entertainment, with Disney’s animated movies often using them for comic relief. Iago, the short-tempered parrot from 1992’s Aladdin and its 2019 live-action remake, is among the most beloved of the studio’s creations.
The animated Iago resembles a red lory, voiced by the stand-up comedian Gilbert Gottfried. Iago was changed to a scarlet macaw for the remake, with the character actor Alan Tudyk performing the voiceover.
Iago was named after the villain from the Shakespeare play Othello, primarily because he was a devious and duplicitous character. In the animated sequels The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Iago became more heroic and teamed with Aladdin.
The character of Iago has transcended his humble roots as a villainous henchman, becoming a staple of the Disney franchise. To this day, the character appears in cartoons, video games, and theme park rides, retaining his grumpy but lovable characteristics.
Who Was The Parrot in Aladdin?
For many young and old viewers of Aladdin, a bird stole their hearts by making them laugh throughout the film’s running time. The parrot in question, named Iago, was created especially for the movie.
Iago didn’t feature in the Arabic folk tale One Thousand and One Nights that inspired Aladdin. Iago, named after the scheming antagonist from the Shakespeare tragedy Othello, is a henchman to the villainous wizard Jafar in the original movie.
Iago underwent many changes while the script was rewritten and adjusted. In the initial pitch, he was named Sinbad and spoke with a calm British accent. Jafar was intended to be zany and loud. Later drafts reversed these personalities to make Jafar more frightening.
The success of Aladdin at the box office – and the popularity of Iago – meant that his character changed in the later sequels. Iago joined Aladdin’s tribe of friends and associates, although he remained irritable and frequently rude, with a thirst for gold and power.
What Species of Parrot Is Iago?
As the original movie was animated and deliberately drawn with exaggerated features for comedic effect, you would be forgiven for not identifying the talking bird species in Aladdin.
Iago is representative of two different types of parrots in the Aladdin franchise. In the animated franchise, he is a red lory, while he was portrayed as a scarlet macaw in the 2019 movie.
The red lory (Eos bornea) was first discovered in 1751.
This parrot grows to around 12 inches in length and, like Iago, has red feathers with blue wingtips and tail feathers. Male and female red lories look identical, and the bird has an average lifespan of 30 years.
The red lory is native to Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea, and various Pacific islands, although it has also been introduced to Taiwan. The parrot is most populous in the Moluccas (the Maluku Islands), earning it the unofficial nickname of the Moluccan lory.
Iago was presumably modeled on the red lory as this is an active, playful, and flamboyant parrot.
In the 2019 Aladdin movie, the character of Iago was toned down a little and portrayed as a more realistic parrot. The species was also changed to a scarlet macaw.
Let’s review some facts about scarlet macaws in case the movie inspired you to adopt this bird.
The scarlet macaw (Ara macao) is the national bird of Honduras, but it’s also native to South America, Trinidad, and Coiba. The parrot likes to dwell at the top of trees, usually at heights of up to 3,000 feet.
Many of the rainforest domains of the scarlet macaw have been destroyed, but the species isn’t considered endangered. This parrot can live as long as 80 years in captivity, although 50 years is more common, and can grow as large as 35 inches.
The appearance of the scarlet macaw is striking, with primarily red feathers tempered by yellow and blue. This is a loud parrot, but its vocabulary is limited to 10 words. They still have lots of personality, though.
Which Voice Actor Played Iago?
While many actors have voiced Iago worldwide and in various media, two actors are considered most synonymous with the role.
Gilbert Gottfried voiced Iago in the original 1992 Aladdin, its two sequels released in 1994 and 1996, and a TV series than ran between 1994–1995. Scott Weinger, who voiced Aladdin, and Linda Larkin, who played Jasmine, also appeared in all four projects.
Gottfried rose to fame as a stand-up comedian and TV personality in the 1980s noted for his loud, rapid-fire delivery and New York accent. His stand-up routines were often controversial, making it ironic that he was such a beloved figure in children’s entertainment.
Iago was Gilbert Gottfried’s most enduring role, although he first caught the eye of Hollywood in the blockbuster sequel Beverley Hills Cop II, which led to his casting in Aladdin. Gottfried returned to the role of Iago numerous times.
Sadly, Gilbert Gottfried died in 2022, aged 67. He’s survived by his wife, Dara Kravitz, and two children while his legacy lives on through a 2017 documentary about his life and career, simply titled Gilbert.
Gottfried wasn’t invited to portray Iago in the 2019 live-action version of Aladdin, as the filmmakers adjusted the character to be less maniacal. Alan Tudyk took on the role in this blockbuster.
Tudyk was born in Texas and spent much of the 1990s playing minor roles in movies, TV shows, and stage plays. His big break came in the short-lived sci-fi space opera show Firefly, which spawned a dedicated cult following, and he has been working regularly ever since.
Alan Tudyk is best known for his comedic roles, thanks to his rubber face and comic timing, but his ability to use a variety of voices has also led to numerous vocal parts.
Tudyk has lent his voice to other Disney classics, including Frozen, Moana, Big Hero 6, Encanto, and Ralph Breaks the Internet. He was also a big hit as the sarcastic droid K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and regularly voices CGI, cartoon, and video game characters.
To the delight of his legion of fans, Alan Tudyk finally landed his first lead role in an ongoing, live-action TV show in 2021. He plays Harry Vanderspeigle in Syfy’s adaptation of the comic book Resident Alien, which will return for a third season in 2023.
Famous Iago Quotes from Aladdin
If you’re a fan of Walt Disney’s Aladdin, Iago’s best moments likely hold a special place in your heart. Viewers of animated movies and television series often cite Iago as the show’s true star.
This is due to some memorable quotes and Gilbert Gottfried’s unique and unmistakable line delivery. Here are some of the most famous jokes attributed to Iago in the Aladdin franchise:
|Iago Quote||The scene in the Movie or TV Series|
|“Conscience? Never had one! Never.”||The Genie tells Iago to follow his conscience.|
|“Hey! Do I insult your mother?”||After Abu the monkey chatters unintelligibly at Iago.|
|“If I gotta choke down on one more of those moldy, disgusting crackers… Bam!”||Iago is tired of pretending to enjoy the taste of crackers.|
|“Jafar, get a grip! Ack! Good grip!”||Jafar grabs Iago by the throat to stop him from talking.|
|“Look at this – I’m so ticked off that I’m molting!”||Iago throws a tantrum and starts to molt his feathers involuntarily.|
|“That’s Sultan Vile Betrayer to you!”||The Sultan calls Iago a “vile betrayer” following an underhanded power grab.|
|“You got a problem, pinky?”||Iago disguises himself as a flamingo, only to be confronted by a real flamingo.|
|“You got the wrong guy! You want my twin brother, Othello!”||Iago talks in his sleep, trying to avoid being arrested for misdeeds in a dream.|
|“That does it! All reports are in! Life is now officially unfair!”||Iago learns that Aladdin is now a prince.|
If you grew up watching Aladdin and its sequels, you’ll likely have your favorite moments attributed to this mischievous bird.
Other Appearances of Iago
While Iago is most readily identified with the Aladdin movies, whether animated or live-action, the character has also cropped up in other media.
Some of the most notable appearances of Iago outside of the Aladdin franchise include:
- The animated musical Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams, where Gilbert Gottfried provided the voice.
- An actor in a costume at the Walt Disney World theme park in Florida, introducing attractions.
- The Disney-centric Kingdom Hearts video games, where Gilbert Gottfried once again stepped in for voiceover duties in the English dubs.
- The Broadway musical was inspired by the 1992 movie, although this version of Iago was a human being with no parrot costume.
- The ABC fantasy drama Once Upon a Time featured numerous fairy tale characters, with Iago represented as a non-verbal cockatoo.
Of all parrots in popular culture, Iago has perhaps enjoyed the greatest and longest-term impact. To this day, Iago remains among the most beloved talking animals in the Walt Disney stable.