Andreas Deja
At the 35th Annie Awards in 2006
Gdańsk, Poland
Years active1980–present
EmployerWalt Disney Animation Studios (1981–2011)
AwardsWinsor McCay Award, 2006
Disney Legends, 2015

Andreas Deja (born 1 April 1957 in Gdańsk) is a Polish-born German-American character animator, most noted for his work at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Deja's work includes serving as supervising animator on characters in several Disney animated films, including the Disney villains Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in Aladdin, and Scar in The Lion King, the titular character in Hercules, and Lilo Pelekai in Lilo & Stitch.

Early life

Deja was born in Poland, but in 1958 he moved with his family to Dinslaken, Germany. He credits seeing Disney's The Jungle Book as an 11-year-old with inspiring him to become an animator.[1] At that young age, he promptly wrote to Walt Disney Productions to express his interest in working there, and received back a form letter[2] which he has kept ever since. Deja later summarized the letter and how he acted on it as follows: "Please, do not send us any copies of Mickey Mouse. We can teach you that. You need to become an artist in your own right first. Watch the world around you. Draw your brothers and sisters. Go to the zoo. Sketch the animals a lot ... I took it very seriously ... I knew I had to be good. I knew I had to be above average."[3]

After graduating from Theodor-Heuss Gymnasium (secondary school) in Dinslaken, where he was taught by the artist and art teacher Alfred Grimm,[4] he studied graphic design at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen, Germany.[5]


Deja in 2012 at a Masterclass workshop at the Studio Technique in Montreal

A lifelong fan of Disney animated films,[6] Deja was hired by the studio in August 1980 after he had corresponded with Eric Larson, one of Disney's senior Nine Old Men of animation who ran the studio's training department.[3][7] The first film on which he worked for was The Black Cauldron, during which time he shared a cubicle with future film director Tim Burton.

During his rookie days at Disney, Deja sought mentorship and practical advice from seven of the then-living Nine Old Men, who were already retired before his tenure.[3][8][9] Deja has collected information on the Nine Old Men over the years, and has stated that one of his ambitions is to publish one book for each of the Nine Old Men.[10]

Deja is best known as the supervising animator of some of the most memorable Disney villains: Gaston in Beauty and the Beast,[11] Jafar in Aladdin,[12] Scar in The Lion King[13] and Queen Narissa in Enchanted.[14] He also animated Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, King Triton in The Little Mermaid, the title character in Hercules, Lilo Pelekai in Lilo & Stitch, Mama Odie in The Princess and the Frog and Tigger in Winnie the Pooh. In addition, he is the current resident specialist for the animation of Mickey Mouse.

In 2011, he began a blog where he shares some of his collection of the work of the early Disney animators.[15]

In 2015, Deja authored The Nine Old Men: Lessons, Techniques, and Inspiration from Disney's Great Animators ISBN 978-0415843355 published by Focal Press.[9][16]

As of June 2023, he currently worked on the animated short film Mushka.[17]

Deja was the guest curator for the exhibition titled Walt Disney's The Jungle Book: Making a Masterpiece which took place at The Walt Disney Family Museum from June 23, 2022, to January 8, 2023, to celebrate the film's 55th anniversary.[18][19] A Members Only Preview of the exhibition which included a special talk with Deja, Darleen Carr, Floyd Norman and Bruce Reitherman took place on June 22, 2022.[20] Deja also wrote an extensive companion book for the exhibition which was originally slated to be published by Weldon Owen on September 20, 2022,[21] before it was changed to November 1, 2022.[22]

Personal life

Deja is openly gay.[23] His sexuality has been discussed as an influence on the development of some Disney characters.[24][25][26][27]


Year Title Credits Characters Notes
1985 The Black Cauldron Animator / Character Designer Taran, Eilonwy, Dallben, Gurgi, Doli, Horned King, Fairfolk and Talyllyn
1986 The Great Mouse Detective Character Animator Queen Mousetoria
1987 The Brave Little Toaster Character Animator Elmo St. Peters
1988 Who Framed Roger Rabbit Supervising Animator Roger Rabbit, Weasels, Baby Herman, Gorilla, Hyacinth Hippo, Clarabelle Cow, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, Goofy, Droopy, Pinocchio, Speedy Gonzalez and Porky Pig[28][29][30][31][32]
Oliver & Company Character Designer
1989 The Little Mermaid Supervising Animator / Directing Animator / Character Designer King Triton and Vanessa[33]
1990 The Prince and the Pauper (Short) Supervising Animator Mickey Mouse & The Prince
1991 Beauty and the Beast Supervising Animator Gaston
1992 Aladdin Supervising Animator Jafar
1993 The Simpsons (TV Series) Animator / Character Designer - 1 Episode
1994 The Lion King Supervising Animator Scar
1995 Runaway Brain (Short) Supervising Animator Mickey Mouse, Julius as Mickey
1996 Quack Pack (TV Series) Animation Director / Supervising Animator - 1 Episode
1997 Hercules Supervising Animator Adult Hercules
2000 Fantasia 2000 Animator - Segment "Rhapsody in Blue" / Character Animator - Host Sequences Mickey Mouse
The Emperor's New Groove Additional Visual Development Artist
2002 Lilo & Stitch Supervising Animator Lilo Pelekai
2004 Home on the Range Animator Alameda Slim and Junior the Buffalo
Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas (Video) Animation Consultant
2006 Bambi II (Video) Animation Consultant
2007 Enchanted Animator Queen Narissa
How to Hook Up Your Home Theater (Short) Animator Goofy
2009 The Princess and the Frog Supervising Animator Mama Odie and Juju[34]
2011 The Ballad of Nessie (Short) Animator Nessie
Winnie the Pooh Supervising Animator / Visual Development Artist Tigger
2020 Prop Culture Himself Episode: "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"
2023 Mushka Director


In 2006, at the 34th Annie Awards, Deja was awarded the Winsor McCay Award for outstanding contribution to the art of animation.[35] At the 2015 D23 Expo, he was honored as a Disney Legend.[3]


  1. ^ "Deja views", Features, The Northern Echo, 30 January 2010
  2. ^ Sara Schurmann, "An der Theke: Wie ein Dinslakener zur Disney-Legende wurde", NRZ, 1 October 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d Martens, Todd (13 August 2015). "Animator Andreas Deja breathes life into Disney characters and more". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  4. ^ Bettina Schack, Deja - eine Disney-Legende aus Dinslaken, Rheinische Post, 6 April 2021, cited by Heimatverein Dinslaken.
  5. ^ Ralf Schreiner, "Traumziel Hollywood", Rheinische Post, 16 July 2009.
  6. ^ Frank Lorentz, "Ein Dinslakener in Hollywood", Welt am Sonntag, 28 July 2002.
  7. ^ Ghez, Didier,"Interview with Andreas Deja". Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 2008-10-26. , Paris, January 1995, accessed February 10, 2014
  8. ^ Andreas Deja : " ... If you take the drawing out of Disney, it just isn't Disney" Interview, Jim Hill Media, 20 June 2007
  9. ^ a b Andreas Deja shares the lessons he learned from those animation masters, Disney's Nine Old Men Jim Hill Media, 28 July 2016
  10. ^ Katis, Clay (2005). "The Animation Podcast: Andreas Deja (Part 03 of 03)" (Podcast). Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  11. ^ H. Peter, Steeves (2018). Beautiful, Bright, and Blinding: Phenomenological Aesthetics and the Life of Art. State University of New York. p. 101. ISBN 9781438466545.
  12. ^ Deshpande, Swati (16 August 2015). "Jungle Book changed my life says Disney Legend animator Andreas Deja". The Times of India. Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. – via Gale General OneFile.
  13. ^ Wild, David (14 July 1994). "Topcat: The making of "The Lion King"". Rolling Stone. No. 686–687. pp. 91–92.
  14. ^ Riegel, Stephanie (24 March 2009). "Batoon Rouge". The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. Vol. 27, no. 16 – via ProQuest.
  15. ^ "Deja View".
  16. ^ "Nine Old Men by Andreas Deja". 12 November 2015.
  17. ^ Deja, Andreas (4 June 2022). "Deja View: Quick Mushka Update".
  18. ^ "Walt Disney's The Jungle Book: Making a Masterpiece". The Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Walt Disney's The Jungle Book: Making a Masterpiece Preparation Sneak Peek". The Walt Disney Family Museum. 15 June 2022. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  20. ^ "Members Only Preview: Walt Disney's The Jungle Book: Making a Masterpiece Member Preview Night". The Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  21. ^ "Walt Disney's:The Jungle Book : Andreas Deja". Book Depository. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  22. ^ Deja, Andreas (20 September 2022). Walt Disney's The Jungle Book: Making a Masterpiece [Walt Disney Family Museum]. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1681888934.
  23. ^ Seymour, Craig (6 October 2000). "Yep, They're Gay". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 10 November 2011.
  24. ^ Dines, Gail; McMahon Humez, Jean (August 2002). Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-reader. Sage Publications. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-7619-2261-2.
  25. ^ Schweizer, Peter (September 1998). The Mouse Betrayed. Regnery Publishing. p. 148. ISBN 0-89526-387-4.
  26. ^ Provenzano, Tom (28 June 1994). "The Lion in Summer". The Advocate: 66.
  27. ^ Elser, Daniela (4 March 2011). "Gay families in Disney movies only a matter of time, says Lion King animator Andreas Deja".
  28. ^ Deja, Andreas (12 February 2016). "Deja View: Roger Rabbit Scenes". Deja View. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  29. ^ Deja, Andreas (21 February 2016). "Deja View: Roger Rabbit Scenes II". Deja View. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  30. ^ Deja, Andreas (28 April 2016). "Deja View: Roger Rabbit Scenes III". Deja View. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  31. ^ Deja, Andreas (7 June 2016). "Deja View: Roger Rabbit Scenes IV". Deja View. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  32. ^ Deja, Andreas (3 August 2016). "Deja View: Roger Rabbit Scenes V". Deja View. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  33. ^ Deja, Andreas (15 February 2019). "Deja View: Venessa". Deja View. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  34. ^ Deja, Andreas (2 March 2019). "Deja View: Dr. Facilier". Deja View. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  35. ^ Winsor McCay Award, The Annie Awards, retrieved on 2008-10-26