Character Discussion: Scar, Villains and Patrick Page

Patrick Page did an interview with BroadwayWorld that deals mostly with his transformation into the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but in which he also mentions his work for Disney Theatricals in Beauty and the Beast as Lumiere and The Lion King.

Page discusses some of the key differences between Scar and Mufasa, stating not only that the former is smarter than the latter, but that he has a better sense of humour too. This was naturally a conscious effort on the parts of the writers and animators of the film to differentiate between the characters. The librettists of the stage show (Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi) built on what was already there and – of course – the principle is neither unique to the the stage show nor to The Lion King in any of its forms, as indicated by Page in the video, where he says:

Patrick Page wrote:
And then I did Lion King, and Lion King you don’t see any of the heaviness in the costume – it’s all underneath, because the mechanical mask that sits above Scar’s head is run by motors which are quite large actually and are on the hips and those add about 30 pounds to the costume and then there’s a thing that goes down your arm and a switch that operates the thing on the inside. So I loved the mask and the things I was able to do with it, but it was a very, very heavy costume and again I did that show for about 5 years, also at the New Amsterdam, at the Minskoff and on tour. So that was a lot of heavy costumes….

I do like playing villains. I like playing other parts too. The great thing about a villain is that they’re usually the smartest person in the show and they are usually the funniest. So that of course is true of Scar. You know, Scar is, I think, in many ways… smarter than Mufasa. Mufasa is much more virtuous, kinder, more loyal – all those great qualities you need in a leader, but Scar has an intelligence than just no one else in the play has – and a sense of humour. Mufasa, bless his heart, he doesn’t have a funny bone in his body. He doesn’t have one laugh line in the show. So… it’s that sense of irony that makes villains so rewarding to play as opposed to heroes. Heroes very rarely have any sense of the ironic.

Of course, in The Lion King there is a complexity at play which is grounded in the the Shakespearean influences on both the film and the stage show, which makes itself clear in the conception of the character of Scar. While the influence of Hamlet on the film is clear, Scar is a kind of Richard III and this certainly adds something unique to him within the general context of Disney villains (although he is not my favourite Disney villain overall).

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