D23 Expo’s Swinging Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Tarzan

By Jim Frye

It was a wild end to a fantastic D23 Expo 2019 as “Two Worlds, One Family: The Making of Tarzan,” gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Disney’s 1999 animated classic. Hosted by Wayne Knight, who voiced Tantor the Elephant in the film, the panel featured directors Chris Buck and Kevin Lima, along with producer Bonnie Arnold. They were joined by animators Bruce W. Smith, Ken Duncan, and Eric Daniels.

Arnold—fresh from her work on Toy Story—said she was always a huge fan of the Tarzan stories, especially the Johnny Weissmuller films, and was ecstatic about joining the production. She was instrumental in helping to choose the songs for the film, which was composed and sung by iconic musician Phil Collins. “Phil was an incredibly good match and so great to work with,” she said.

Exclusively for this D23 Expo panel, one of Phil Collins’ original demo recordings was played, accompanied by the pre-visual artwork from the film. A video clip of Tony Goldwyn, voice of Tarzan, doing the famous “Tarzan call,” was also shown.

But perhaps the biggest “bit of news” to come out of the panel came from Buck, who joked, “Can I please put this rumor to rest? Tarzan’s parents are not Elsa and Anna’s parents.”

A highlight of the event was a video greeting from Disney Legend Glen Keane, character animator for Tarzan. In it, he drew Tarzan on an art pad, then said, “Thank you for the chance of lifetime to do Tarzan. I feel like I was born for that character. Thanks to everyone at D23 Expo for celebrating Tarzan with us.”

The event ended with a concert by Mathew Morrison (Glee) singing songs from his forthcoming Walt Disney Records album, including a new rendition of “You’ll Be in My Heart,” from the film.