Deja, who was named a Disney legend at the last D23 Expo in 2015, is best known as the character animator behind such Disney villains as Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin’s” Jafar, and Scar in “The Lion King.” He was also behind such characters as the hero in “Hercules,” Mama Odie in “The Princess and the Frog,” and Lilo of “Lilo & Stitch,” among many others.
He is currently working on his own independent short film, “Mushka,” about a young girl and her pet tiger set in Russia.
Deja, who was born in Poland and raised in Germany, first applied to be an animator at Disney when he was just 10 years old, right after he first saw the studio’s “The Jungle Book.”
“The day I received a letter back from Walt Disney Productions expressing the necessity to become a master in the mechanics of drawing, it lit a fire in me to truly become an outstanding animator,” says Deja. “After years of art school and dedicating my personal time to studying animal anatomy and behavior, I was accepted into the animation training program at the Walt Disney Studios in August 1980 and didn’t look back once.”
Deja’s work from many of those classic Disney films are on display at the museum as well as art from his “Mushka” project. The exhibition is dubbed “Deja View: The Art of Andreas Deja,” in a tip to Deja’s like-named popular blog, Deja View.
The Walt Disney Family Museum, on the grounds of San Francisco’s Presidio, features many Disney works of art, historic artifacts, and materials related to Walt Disney, the studio, and the company’s theme parks, along with special exhibits. Admission is free to museum members and children under 5, and $25 for adult general admission.