The Fascinating Real-Life Inspirations Behind Disney Villains

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Jeremy Irons as Scar, The Lion King

Jeremy Irons won the Academy Award for Best Actor as British socialite and accused murderer Claus von Bülow in 1990’s Reversal of Fortune. Hesitant to jump from a dramatic role to an animated feature, Irons initially turned down the part of Scar in Disney’s The Lion King — the tyrannical beast in the film. Eventually he was inspired to accept the role when the writers and animators incorporated Irons’ mannerisms into the part, particularly Irons as Von Bülow. They even gave Scar a line pulled from Reversal of Fortune: “You have no idea.” Animators also watched Irons in Louis Malle’s 1992 film Damage while shaping the character’s facial expressions.