We're really pleased and impressed that video game producer Warren Spector went to such extremes to study the original animations from early Disney shorts to create the newest video game from Disney: Epic Mickey. We were fortunate enough to sit down with Warren--who has a Walt Disney Family Museum family membership, by the way!--and chat with him about the game, what inspired him, his love for all things Disney, and what it was like to bring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit back to life.
What is the premise of Epic Mickey?
WS: The fact that Walt lost Oswald in a contract dispute was the start of the entire story. This is a brother story--it's asking the question of how important are family and friends to you. Here's the starting point for the entire story: Older brother, rejected by his dad--or thinking that he was--resents younger brother for stealing the life that should have been his. It's a true story, you know? If Walt hadn't lost the rights to Oswald, Mickey Mouse would have never existed, Oswald would've been in Steamboat Ozzie, and he would have been the biggest cartoon star in history! And so he spent 80 years in Wasteland--forgotten, rejected, nursing his grudge against Mickey, and so Mickey's biggest job--in my mind, anyway--is redeeming his older brother by bringing Oswald back and reconnecting him. It's a story about how important family and friends are to you, and every player gets to decide that.
What is it like working with Mickey Mouse--creating him into this new character for this video game, but still keeping the integrity of that character that we've known since 1928?
WS: That was one of the big balancing acts--I guess people think I should be scared, but I've never been scared on this project… but I certainly feel a sense of responsibility. I mean, this is a character that has touched everyone; neither one of us will ever meet anybody who does not know this character, or have an opinion about him. So I knew I had to, for myself, identify the heart of the character--I had to work with Disney to make sure that we agreed on the heart of the character. You know what a Disney geek I was… (jokingly) half the stuff you see at the Disney Family Museum, I have in my office! I am a geek from way back, and so I had a pretty good handle on Mickey--at least I thought I did. I looked at Mickey from 1928, and then from 1937, 1940, and 1952, and today. I looked at him in the parks, and I looked at him--not for the differences, which are there as he's different in all of these incarnations--but I looked for the things that were the same. And what I came up with is that he's always been the smartest member of the gang, he's a friend--to a fault; he will NEVER give up--he's smart, he's loyal, he's friendly, he's persistent, but he's also mischievous. And he gets overly enthusiastic and doesn't always think before he acts. Take a look at Sorcerer's Apprentice-- he plays with things he doesn't understand, gets in trouble, and then has to get himself out of it! That's the Mickey I wanted to capture: smart, and friendly and loyal, and mischievous. And I think Disney is happy with our take on our character.