When I joined the story team of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” back in November 1993 the movie had not even been given the green light for production. Even so, the story crew was busily creating story boards for the proposed animated feature. If you remember, the growing staff of Walt Disney Feature Animation had already scored several hit films and had become the darlings of The Disney Company.
One afternoon, I arrived for a meeting with our two directors, Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale and we began talking about a new sequence for the film. Writer, Irene Mecchi had written this goofy little sequence that involved Quasimodo secretly meeting the soldier, Phoebus in a local pub. So as not to be noticed, the hunchback disguises himself as a bar maid, and quietly sneaks in a side door.
Wearing a baggy dress and a mop on his head, the hunchback of Notre Dame could hardly be called an attractive woman. Yet, in spite of this, a tipsy barfly is smitten with the strange “beauty” and continues to annoy Quasimodo throughout the sequence.
This was one of the first sequences I storyboarded on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Even though the Victor Hugo novel is clearly a very dark story we attempted to work some humor into the film. I’ll admit I had a lot of fun creating this rather wacky bar scene as Quasimodo tries to persuade the soldier, Phoebus to help the gypsies. Yet, throughout the scene he is continually pursued by the amorous drunk.
Late in 1993, the story team gathered in Glendale and I pitched the sequence to Jeffrey Katzenberg who at the time was Chairman of Walt Disney’s film division. I’m not sure how much Jeffrey liked the sequence, but he turned toward me after the pitch and said, “Ha!” I’m still not sure what Jeffrey meant by that remark but at least I got a smile out of the Chairman. However, the artistic team on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" proved to be awesome and who can forget James Baxter's amazing animation on Quasimodo. This sequence like many others didn't make the final film. However, it was the first thing I did when I came onboard the remarkable animated Disney movie and it will always be a favorite