Animator and script writer Floyd Norman decided early on that he wanted to be an animator after watching Disney movies with his parents. His first feature film project was for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” While still a young artist at the studio, he worked under Disney’s personal supervision on story sequences for “The Jungle Book.” Norman was named a Disney legend in 2007. EXTRA talked to Norman about the upcoming Blu-ray Diamond Edition of the “Jungle Book,” that comes out on Feb. 11.
EXTRA: You are a “Disney legend.” What does it feel like being part of the Disney legacy?
Floyd Norman: It’s very special. I don’t see myself as a legend. It was my dream as a kid to work for Walt Disney. When the opportunity came, I began a fantastic new life. I have been doing this for over 50 years.
What is the Disney magic for you?
It is something that connects with the audience. I see it on the faces of children when I watch Disney movies. I see it at Disneyland parks. It is something that people connect to—maybe memories of childhood or love. Disney was able to tap into warmth, fun and humor, and he knows there is a child in each and every one of us.
What can you tell us about the upcoming Diamond Edition of “The Jungle Book”?
It’s almost like a new movie. Disney wanted to make a film that will make you laugh, cry, dance and sing all at the same time. This movie represents what Disney was all about. Keep in mind it was the last film Disney supervised. When he walked out in December of 1966, we never saw him again. It was a film that made him happy. I want the audience to remember that.
What can you tell us about working with Walt Disney?
Not everybody had a chance to meet Walt Disney. Not everybody can be invited to a meeting with Walt Disney. I was lucky because I was part of the story team. I look back and count myself as a lucky kid to be in the same room as the maestro. He was a tough boss and not an easy guy to work for. For me, it was a terrific learning opportunity and I am a much better storyteller today because of it.
What tools did you use to draw with back then?
Our tools were very simple. We used a sketch pad and an imagination. A story, a pencil and you just sit down and you dream up all of these magical things. It’s a very strange process that is wonderful and enchanting.
What will you take away from the Disney experience?
Knowing that I spent my life making children smile—I can’t think of anything better than that. I think to be part of that magic is a special thing indeed.