Filmmaker Pekka Lehtosaari says that Vesa-Matti Loir’s performance as Aladdin’s Spirit changed the entire Finnish dubbing industry.

    Deceased on Wednesday Vesa-Matti Loiri is remembered for his exceptionally versatile career as a musician and actor.

    The news of his death also stopped the filmmaker Pekka Lehtosaarineven though it was known that Loiri was not in good health.

    – Vesa-Matti Loiri is such a phenomenon that he has always been considered somehow immortal, a larger-than-life phenomenon. When something larger than life dies, it’s always surprising.

    Lehtosaari got to know Loir for the first time in the early 1990s while looking for voice actors for Disney Aladdin– for the Finnish version of the animation. It was difficult to find the right actor for the legendary character of the lamp spirit in the film. He had done the original role performance Robin Williamsand Disney papers described the Spirit’s vocal range as ranging from a flute-like whisper to the rumble of a thunderclap.

    Pekka Lehtosaari and Vesa-Matti Loiri met during the movie Aladdin. Lehtosaari was responsible for the translation and direction of the Finnish version, Loiri performed the voice role of Henge. Lehtosaari home archive

    In his mind, Lehtosaari connected the flute precisely to Vesa-Matti Loir, to his background as a flute player and The flute manto the song. At the same time, he knew that Disney Finland could not afford to pay the kind of wages that Loiri was certainly used to while performing.

    Despite this, Lehtosaari contacted Loir’s acquaintances and set out to investigate the possibility.

    – Everyone said the same thing: Vesku is the kind of person that if he wants to do something, he will do it for free. If he doesn’t want to, there isn’t enough money to get him to agree, says Lehtosaari.

    Lehtosaari found out that Loiri was currently staying in a hotel. He called the hotel’s call center every ten minutes, asking if the actor could be seen in the lobby. In the end, Lehtosaari was able to agree with the receptionist that they would call back at the right moment and ask for Loir’s phone.

    It was the fame of the Flute Man that made Pekka Lehtosaari think of Vesa-Matti Loir for the role of Henge. IL

    The tactic was successful, Loiri was brought to the end of the line and cautiously interested in the project. At the studio, Lehtosaari showed Loir the English and Finnish dubbings of previous Disney films side by side as an example. Loiri got excited when he realized that the purpose is not to imitate the original, but to make an even better version.

    Spontaneous insights

    Before the recordings, Loiri and Lehtosaari went through the script together with devotion. Parivaljakko looked at every single line and thought about how to make them even funnier.

    However, some of the insights only came in the moment itself. According to Loir’s own words, they just “popped out of the mouth”.

    One of the examples is in the scene where the Spirit and the magic carpet are playing chess. When Henki realizes that he is losing the game, he turns into “a very Russian-looking chess player”, according to Lehtosaari.

    – I told Veskus that I would like Russia to be part of this somehow, but nothing just fits that picture. Vesku said we’ll see what happens.

    The final line is heard in the film: Oh Russia, I lost to the carpet.

    The reference to Germany, on the other hand, comes into play in the scene when Henki saves the drowning Aladdin by turning into a submarine. Lehtosaari had written random words and sayings in German that everyone knows, such as Achtung and eine kleine. Loiri continued spontaneously with his own addition: Tannenbaum, tannenbaum!

    – It was absolutely hilarious, Lehtosaari recalls.

    In the original version, Henge was voiced by the legendary Robin Williams. AOP

    Lehtosaari is grateful that Disney gave them permission to take so many liberties with Henge’s voice.

    The best dubbing

    Due to busy schedules, Henge’s lines were recorded at night. Williams’ original tape was not listened to at all in the recordings, in order to capture the authentic Loiri for the interpretation.

    At that time, it was not possible to hear the co-actors, so Loiri performed on silent film and Lehtosaari, as needed, directed the tones and emotional states in the right direction.

    Lehtosaari describes that before Aladdin only a very small and limited group of voice actors did the Finnish dubbing. After Loir’s performance, it was no longer a problem to get even famous singers or actors involved in cartoon projects.

    – It was a real watershed. Everything just fell into place, says Lehtosaari about the Aladdin production.

    Disney declared the Spirit of Loir as the best dubbing. Lehtosaari home archive

    Disney announced the Finnish version Aladdin’s and Vesa-Matti Loir’s performance as the Spirit as the best of all dubbed versions of the film.

    – It was something unheard of in Finland, it had never been seen before, Lehtosaari describes Loir’s performance.

    Jarkko Rantanen The Jafaria production company even preferred the original: in the United States, the actor’s voice had been artificially lowered, Rantanen acted purely with his own voice.

    The cooperation continued

    Later, Loiri and Lehtosaari collaborated in several animated films and Bad boys in the movie.

    – Vesku had been talking for many years that it would be nice to be able to do something bad. When he got Bad boys into his hands, he called me and said “Thank you Pekka for writing me such a good role”.

    Originally, Lehtosaari had not written the role specifically for Loir. However, when the choice of actors became clear, it opened up the possibility for Lehtosaari to add such extravagances that the other Actors would not necessarily be able to cope with in the desired way.

    Eric Goldberg, who animated the spirit, remembered Vesa-Matti Loir with a special drawing. Lehtosaari home archive


    The last time Lehtosaari met Loir was a few years ago. Spirit animator Eric Goldberg had once given Loir a drawing in which a text was written next to the black and white Spirit I ain’t never had a friend like you (I never had a friend like you), referring to the song sung by Henge.

    – Loiri got in touch and asked to meet. He wanted to give the drawing to me as an advance inheritance. He didn’t want it to fall into the wrong hands when it was time for him to leave, Lehtosaari says.

    When the news of Loir’s death came out on Wednesday, Lehtosaari put together the artist’s favorite songs for a playlist. The list ended up lasting three and a half hours. While listening, Lehtosaari smoked a cigar: Veskuk had also been a cigar man.

    After the music died down, Lehtosaari made a new list. There were too many good songs missing from the previous one.

    Vesa-Matti Loiri died on Wednesday at the age of 77. ATTE KAJOVA