7 Classic Disney Characters You Had No Idea Were Modelled On Real People

Tom Cruise took you to a whole new world, apparently.


Walt Disney's impassable animations have been shaping children for generations, making old folk tales and history accessible to all with bright colours and friendly characters. No matter what you think of Bolt or Tangled, there'€™s no denying the studios real strength is in classical 2D cell animation, which makes the development that they are ditching their traditional, hand-drawn style a depressing development.

Back in the late thirties, Disney pioneered motion capture with Snow White, using real actors on film as models for the animators. This was a method that was used throughout the company's history, aiding their giant leaps forward in style (for example, underwater action in The Little Mermaid). As well as occasionally getting famous people to help in this process, often for the actual designs of the characters, the animators would often turn to popular culture, choosing elements from real people and working them into their models.

In this list we bring you seven such examples. Some are genuinely interesting pieces of trivia and others are so surprisingly obvious you'll kick yourself for not noticing them before. Many articles on this topic around the Internet will confuse being a model with being inspiration for design, which is a bit like saying Sam Worthington inspired the design of Jake Sulley's avatar; true, but missing the point.

While some of these people ended up being used as an animation model, I've taken every effort to give examples where the person's looks were the initial reason for their involvement. The most obvious example is The Genie in Aladdin, but as the entire point of the characters is that he is Robin Williams and nigh on everyone knows it, I've chosen to omit it from this list.


Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.