Doctor Facilier, also known as the Shadow Man, is the main antagonist of Disney's 2009 feature film the The Princess and the Frog. He is an evil bokor (witch doctor) who plans to rule New Orleans with help from his "friends on the other side". Since his inception, Facilier has reached critical acclaim and major popularity with Disney fans, making him one of Disney's most popular villains. He is voiced by Keith David.
Facilier is a scheming bokor with "friends on the other side". Much like Ursula and Hades, Facilier tricks his victims into making deals with him. He can read their past and present with his tarot cards; he then looks into their futures as well, and offers to "change it 'round some." However, the deals he makes usually backfire on the victim, though Facilier is not exactly dishonest as he does give them exactly what he promised, even though it isn't what his victims had in mind. For example, he tells Naveen that if he wants a future with the freedom to "hop from place to place," he would need "green" (heavily implying green to mean money.) However, upon making the deal, Facilier transforms Naveen into a frog, giving him both "green" and a way to "hop from place to place" in a more literal sense.
As Naveen says, Facilier is indeed suave, smooth-talking and often charming, but also cruel, remorseless and sadistic. A charismatic performer as Naveen acknowledges, Facilier is a smooth talker of drama and showmanship. A glutton for power, Facilier is controlling and vindictive, doing whatever he can to get what he wants. He even admits in the song "Friends on the Other Side" that he also has hoodoo and "things [he] hasn't even tried", indicating he will work with anyone who can give him power. Like other Disney villains, he is highly Machiavellian as shown by his manipulation of Naveen, Lawrence, and later Tiana into helping them under false pretenses. Unlike most Disney Villains such as Percival C. McLeach and Claude Frollo, Facilier does not underestimate the powers of nature, and like Mama Odie, he also knows that animals can talk and that they have minds just like humans. As shown when Ray the firefly tries to take the villainous voodoo doctor's talisman away from him, Facilier seems to understand Ray's intentions and tries to cease them. Also, knowing that Ray's bioluminescent abdomen can destroy his voodoo shadow demons, Facilier swats and crushes the firefly without hesitation, ending Ray's interference.
Despite this complete lack of morals and a treacherous nature, Facilier's motivations are hinted at briefly. Facilier frequently sympathizes with the downtrodden or poor, implying that his own past may have been similar to Lawrence and Tiana.
Facilier bears many physical traits that are similar to Jafar, such as being tall, skinny, mustached; and dressed in very linear black-and-red clothing. Facilier has purple eyes, and a thin mustache, as well as a gap between his front teeth. He has long, boney fingers, and lanky arms and legs.
Dressed as the infamous Loa of the dead Baron Samedi, Doctor Facilier wears a top hat with a purple feather in it and a skull and crossbones on it; the skull can be magically removed and change into a skull make-up as shown in "Friends on the other side". Under his top hat, instead of being bald or having a comb-over, Facilier has a huge hairdo to fit in his hat, also to many villains are seen to have hair like he does. Around his neck, he wears a necklace with two crocodile teeth. Facilier wears a dark maroon undertaker tailcoat and black pants, white spats over black shoes, a purple vest under his coat that doesn't entirely cover his midriff, and a red cummerbund. One might say he somewhat looks and performs like a showman. Like most Disney Villains, Facilier wears mostly purple, red, and black in his clothing.
He wields a cane with a purple globe on top, possibly a crystal ball, though it is never revealed. Facilier seems to use his cane for show performances, a tool, or a weapon. He carries a voodoo talisman, which is the fragile source of his powers. As shown, only a person besides Facilier, who wears the talisman, becomes who ever they want, provided it has a particular person's blood.
Facilier is accompanied by his sidekick shadow that actually has a life and personality of its own, being able to move of its own free will and move objects like the voodoo shadow spirits. It is possible that his shadow is a similar spirit given to Facilier by his "Friends," though as it fears the same fate that will befall Facilier if he cannot pay back his debt, it is perhaps a more personal creation of the doctor; it is absolutely obedient to his wishes and seems to reflect his mood at several points.
Powers and Abilities
Facilier is a bokor that performs left-handed or Petro Voodoo (the dark and stereotypical voodoo magic). He is a conjurer and sorcerer of sorts, possessing powerful voodoo magic capable of accomplishing nearly anything. He can see into the past of a person and see what people desire the most. He is proficient in sleight of hand, effortlessly shuffling, twisting and manipulating his deck of tarot cards. He is a skilled conjurer as well, being able to pull his staff and tarot deck out of nothing (although this may also be attributed to sleight of hand.) His tarot cards possess strange properties: the images on them seem to change, reflecting the desires of Facilier's victims (such as when Tiana's restaurant picture appeared on a card in the deck.) The cards usually show his victims their future in a positive light; however, they are unable to corrupt the truth entirely and usually include a clue as to the victim's real fate (for example, when Naveen sees his future filled with "green," he fails to see the lilypad made of money in the background). Facilier is also shown casting spells through use of a strange pink powder. The effects of this powder include the reversal of the frog spell on Tiana, a man spontaneously growing hair (then having it sprout all over him), producing puffs of smoke that display memories, and the creation of a full scale rendition of Tiana's dream restaurant (although it is possible, and implied, that what he works with the powder are only illusions). His Voodoo Emporium is shown to be filled with strange objects and voodoo paraphernalia (some of which he admits that he "ain't even tried") including shrunken heads and voodoo dolls which seem to come alive, chant, and beat drums when Facilier is about to perform his biggest spells. The dolls also serve a practical application - he has a voodoo doll of 'Big Daddy' La Bouff primed and ready for the moment he can get his hands on the rich man's fortune (or in other words, very handsome).
Facilier's powers stem primarily from his "friends" on the other side: these "friends" of his are in fact a multitude of dark voodoo spirits (known as Loa) which appear in the forms of voodoo masks in his Voodoo Emporium. While he does call upon them for help, he is in actuality deeply indebted to them already (the nature of which is never explained), and secretly fears them. Most of these "friends" seens to also manifest in his shadow, which can be seen making its own movements despite the direction of light or Faciliers own body, and can even affect solid people by their shadows as when it kicks Lawrence's shadow and Lawrence's shadow reacts as if it had been kicked. Facilier's powers seem to stem from a voodoo talisman - a gift from the other side, given to him by his "friends." The amulet seems to be capable of transformation spells in two manners. It can pinch someone with its mouth-like compartment, inflicting a transformation spell on the victim while at the same time, being able to take a sample of their blood. After taking in a blood sample, the talisman allows its wearer (except Facilier) to take on the appearance of the blood doner. However, in order for this transformation to last, the talisman must be constantly refilled with the victim's blood, otherwise it will run out and the wearer will slowly revert to his original appearance as the last of the blood is drained out. Furthermore, this talisman is also crucial to his magic; without it, he seems to be powerless. So much of his power is invested in this amulet, in fact, should it be destroyed he would be unable to continue doing the bidding of his "Friends," making him unable to work off his debt to them - and prompting them to claim him as payment instead.
Curiously, despite having great power, the nature of his voodoo leaves Dr. Facilier unable to conjure a thing for himself. Instead, he must rely on trickery and guile to manipulate other people into doing what he wants. The nature of his power seems to stem around making deals; he only gains full access to his voodoo when fulfilling someone else's wishes (although he can usually twist them to suit his own ends) or tempting them. Luckily (for him), Facilier is a master of deceit, with charm and persuasion being second nature to him.
Role in the film
Facilier is first seen striking a deal with a man who wishes to grow hair on the busy streets of New Orleans. So, Facilier makes it so by having hair grow over his entire body, frighting both civilians and the man himself, amusing Facilier to the highest degree. However, Facilier's joy is short-lived when he witnesses just how much wealth is owned by Eli "Big Daddy" La Bouff, the richest man in New Orleans. The envious Facilier and his shadow look in disgust, knowing there must be a way to make themselves just as wealthy as Eli is. Later on, Facilier overhears a waitress named Tiana and Charlotte La Bouff, the daughter of Big Daddy, talking about a prince coming to town who is due to marry her. Facilier, needing money, gets an idea from the information heard. Once Prince Naveen and his overworked valet Lawrence arrive, he takes them to his parlor to strike deals. For Naveen, the doctor promises to give Naveen all the freedom and green his heart's desire, while with Lawrence, he offers him to have the chance to be in Naveen's shoes to get a spot in the limelight for once.
With a handshake, the deal is complete. However, when Naveen figured Facilier meant wealth when he promised to give green, the doctor actually tricked the prince and magically transformed him into a frog and imprisoned him. As for Lawrence, he became a recruit for Facilier's plot to become incredibly wealthy and dominate New Orleans. Facilier gives Lawrence a trinket filled with the Naveen's blood, which allows Lawrence to magically transform into an exact copy of the Prince, thus impersonating him. In Naveen's place, the disguised Lawrence was now meant to marry Charlotte. Once they marry, Facilier plans to murder Big Daddy, thus having the fortune handed over to Lawrence, the heir through marriage. Together, the villains would split the money, though Facilier actually plans to cheat the phoney prince and take most. That night at Charlotte's masquerade ball, Lawrence in disguise meets the wealthy debutant and they immediately hit it off, making Facilier's plot all the more closer to completion.
Meanwhile, Naveen manages to escape and heads off. He soon meets Tiana, whom he believes to be a princess. However, she was merely wearing a costume in honor of the party. But following the storyline of "The Frog Prince", Naveen asks the girl to kiss him, which she reluctantly does. As a result of not actually being a princess, Tiana also becomes a frog. Furious, Tiana attacks Naveen and the two end up on the ball's dance floor, causing havoc as they escaped the party and accidentally ending up in the bayous of New Orleans. Facilier was secretly attending the ball, as well, and watched in anger as Naveen escaped. The furious witch doctor confronts Lawrence on the matter, who begins having second thoughts about the villainous scheme. Facilier manages to persuade the former valet to continue going along with the plan, assuring that all will be well so long as they have Naveen's blood in the voodoo talisman. The next day, however, the blood begins to run out and Lawrence's Naveen disguise is abolished. Facilier must now ask for help from his "friends on the other side". Promising they'll have all the wayward souls their dark hearts desire once the city is under his control, Facilier is given a team of shadow demon henchmen by the "friends" to go out and capture Naveen.
Naveen is captured the day after the legion of demons were sent out, and taken back to the worried Facilier and Lawrence. Once Naveen was returned, Lawrence steals back the blood and stores it in the talisman, restoring the power of his Naveen disguise. The wedding ceremony occurs that night at Mardi Gras. Facilier waits in the shadows, watching closely as Lawrence and Charlotte are about to be pronounced husband and wife. With a voodoo doll of Big Daddy at hand, Facilier plans on stabbing the voodoo doll in the heart, thus killing Big Daddy and handing the fortune down to Lawrence as planned. Fortunately, Naveen escapes yet again and prevents this. The talisman is obtained by Naveen and given to his friend Ray the firefly. Facilier and the shadows chase after Ray while Naveen is being held captive by Lawrence. Ray manages to give the talisman over to Tiana, telling her she needs to keep it away from the Shadow Man. Tiana escapes with the talisman whilst Ray begins destroying the shadow demons. Facilier stops this by killing Ray. With him out of the way, the Shadow Man and his legion of demons head onwards to Tiana.
Facilier and the shadows have Tiana cornered, soon enough. However, she threatens to destroy it, prompting Facilier to make an attempt to strike a deal. He tries to manipulate Tiana into handing over the talisman in exchange for granting Tiana's dreams to open the restaurant she's dreamed of having since she was a little girl. However, Tiana denies the deal, not falling for Facilier's manipulation and destroys the talisman. Facilier immediately begins to panic once she does, just as, suddenly, his "friends from the other side" arrive to take the doctor's soul as punishment for his failure. The horrified Facilier pleads for mercy, but it's too late. They grab Facilier's shadow, thus pulling Facilier as well, and drag them into the voodoo spirit world where they will be doomed to reside for all eternity. All that was left was a tombstone with Facilier's horrified face and name engraved onto it.
Doctor Facilier is voiced by veteran voice actor, Keith David, known to many as Goliath from the Disney melodrama animated show, Gargoyles. His chief animator is Bruce Smith who chooses to animate Dr. Facilier because "for every lead character to shine, they must have an equally entertaining adversary." Bruce Smith even describes Facilier as the love child of the Disney Villains Captain Hook and Cruella De Vil.
Dr. Facilier's most notable song is Friends on the Other Side. But in the music CD Bayou Boogie, he has three more songs.
Facilier made his debut as a meetable character at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort in 2009. He is currently a semi-common meet and greet character but mostly common in several shows and parades.
On the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, Facilier is one of the villain suspects in the attraction "Midship Detective Agency". If he turns out to be the culprit, Mickey, Donald and Goofy track him down and successfully put him behind bars where the shadow demons taunt him for his failure.
In 2011, Facilier became the lead villain of the show and performs "Friends On the Other Side" at the opening for the show. After the song, Facilier summons several Disney Villains and together they have a dance. Right after, a meet and greet with the watching guests proceeds.
Facilier appears in the live nighttime water show at Disney California Adventure. Facilier appears during the "Colors of Fear" scene as a cameo appearance.
Dr. Facilier (or at least his shadow) encounters Peter Pan's shadow and begins to sing Friends on the Other Side, leading to the castle taking on a mechanized appearance and eventually leading to the arrival of Captain Hook.
At Walt Disney World, Facilier is revived from the dead (or rather, unsealed from the Voodoo Realm) by Hades and is recruited to find the crystal of the Magic Kingdom. Facilier also decides to extract revenge on Tiana for his demise and take over Frontierland. He assigns his shadows to find the crystal and frees Lawrence from jail to poison the food at Tiana's Palace and place the locals under his control. Meanwhile, he kidnaps Tiana, but while he has a conversation with Hades, Tiana is freed by the park guests. Facilier retrieves the crystal and plans on getting Tiana after he completes the delivery. Facilier then battles the park guests, only to ultimately get turned into a frog himself and taken back to the "the other side" as a result of his failure.
Facilier appeared in the earlier versions of the Cruise show, but no longer does. In the show, Facilier is called on by Hades to get a second opinion on what the Fates said. Facilier confirms what they said was true, all the while singing different verses of "Friends on the Other side" Eventually he goes into a full-blown version of his song, complete with dancers and shadows .1
- Facilier also claims to practice Hoodoo, or traditional folk magic.
- Facilier is the only Disney male character to have purple eyes, and one of the few Disney characters in general to possess such, the only other characters being Aurora, Vanessa and Megara.
- The way Facilier moves is quite similar to 1920's era jazz muscians/dancers, notably Cab Calloway.
- In an earlier script, Dr. Facilier would not just be a dark wizard who wants to conquer New Orleans with the help of his friends, he would have been Mama Odie's son, who followed the path of the dark arts unlike his mother. In this same script, there was to be a showdown between the two of them, which would have converged into a major battle during the Mardi Gras.
- Facilier's ultimate downfall is among the darker demises for Disney villains: when his amulet is destroyed he loses the means by which he can pay back his debt, and as such his soul is claimed by the Loa as payment and he is dragged, screaming, into their world. Contrary to what some believe, however, this is not 'being dragged into Hell' as the Loa are not demons, nor do they have any relation to the Christian concept of Hell.
- Facilier was originally named Dr. Duvalier after Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, the Voodoo practicing genocidal dictator of Haiti. Duvalier also had a fondness for dressing as Baron Samedi but also prayed to Jesus Christ. Perhaps to avoid reprisals from Duvalier's remaining supporters, the name was changed to "Facilier" from "facilitate" meaning "to enable."
- Facilier is the first black Disney Villain and the fourth to be French or have French origins.
- Facilier appears to resemble Baron Samedi, the Haitian voodoo Loa of the dead. He wore a top hat, a tuxedo, and other accessories. He too has associations with voodoo spirits. It may be presumed that Facilier is a worshipper of Samedi.
- Aspects of Facilier's appearance are shared by shock-rock singer Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
- Facilier is the first Disney Villain not to have a particular entrance of his own, instead appearing in the opening song in a casual way.
- Facilier's crocodile-tooth necklace can lead to his power; Voodoo practitioners believe that crocodile teeth can bring strength, primal energy and wisdom.
- Dr. Facilier is the only character in the film who refers to himself as such. Everyone else simply calls him "Shadow Man".
- Despite being one of the most recent Disney Villain Songs, the Nostalgia Critic put Facilier's song "Friends On The Other Side" in his "Top 11 Villains Songs". He also mentioned that, had The Princess and the Frog been out at the time, he would have definitely put Dr. Facilier on his "Top 11 Disney Villains" list.
- Interestingly, Facilier and Tiana never meet until the film's climax, though she knows of his reputation and he knows of her father (most likely through the cards).
- Facilier is the first villain in the Disney animated canon to have his own song since Alameda Slim in Home on the Range.
- He once said that he was born of royalty and his mother was 'on the other side'. With this, we can say that he was part human part demon, and of royal blood. This also implies that he may be a nephilim (half-human/half-angel/demon hybrids created without God's consent), even an Anti-Christ.
- Doctor Facilier resembles Oscar Proud from The Proud Family.
Similarities to other Disney villains
- Like most Disney Villains, Facilier wears mostly purple, red and black in his clothing.
- Facilier also shares many similarities to Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid:
- Both being in Disney movies based on classic fairy tales and taking on the role of the one who transformed the titular character of those stories.
- Both, despite being powerful practitioners, are outcasts who despise those that are more powerful than them (Big Daddy La Bouff / King Triton) and are driven by their desire to take that power for themselves throughout their respective films.
- Both operating a business where they claim to use their powers to help make the dreams of others come true, when in reality, they do what they do for their own benefit and enjoyment, ultimately double crossing their victims and ruining their lives.
- Both being known and feared by those they terrorize, and both singing songs ("Friends On The Other Side", "Poor Unfortunate Souls") to entice the protagonist into accepting a deal with them (both, ironically, being royals i.e. Prince Naveen and Princess Ariel), and their songs ending with the protagonist undergoing a magical transformation (Naveen turning into a frog, Ariel becoming human).
- Both using a mystical amulet as part of the transformation process of the protagonist which takes something from the protagonist (Naveen's blood, Ariel's voice), then the amulet is used again as a part of their master plan which involves another mystical transformation (this one being more of a disguise) and marriage, only for said plans falling apart when the amulet is destroyed (interestingly, in the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid, Ursula's shell served as the life source of her powers, much like Facilier's voodoo talisman, and like Facilier, met her demise when her talisman was smashed. What's more interesting is that in both cases, it was the female protagonist, both being a princess, that destroyed the talisman), the only difference being that Ursula transformed herself into Vanessa, and Facilier turned a disgruntled servant of Naveen into Naveen.
- Both having henchmen who are shown to be competent (Faciler's shadows, Flotsam and Jetsam)
- Facilier shares many common points with Scar from The Lion King too:
- They both act in order to take the control of a geographic place (Pride Lands for Scar, New Orleans for Facilier)
- They use simplicity's people to achieve their goals (Simba's in Scar's case, his customers for Facilier)
- They have a dedicated song in their respective movie where they praise their skills ("Be Prepared" for Scar, "Friends on the Other Side" for Facilier).
- They both kill a character who's on the good side (Mufasa for Scar, Ray for Facilier).
- They are beaten (mauled in Scar's case, dragged to hell in Facillier's case) by an entity which they used as henchmen: the hyenas for Scar, the Voodoo spirits for Facilier. However, in the case of Facilier/the Voodoo spirits, its strongly implied throughout the film that Facilier acted as the spirits' henchmen.
- Similarly, both characters also had concepts that changed them for varying reasons regarding potential lineage to a major character in development (Scar was intended to simply be a rogue lion who killed Mufasa, but it was changed during development to be the brother of Mufasa. Likewise, Facilier was originally intended to be Mama Odie's son and intended to fight her during Mardi Gras, but he was relegated to simply being a dark voodoo sorcerer).
- Facilier shares common points with Jafar from Aladdin as well:
- They can both manipulate others into doing their bidding.
- They both are tall, have dark skin, are skinny and have long facial structures.
- They both wear tall hats, wield a staff and wear outfits that consist of red, black and purple clothing.
- They both act in order to take control of a geographic place (Agrabah for Jafar, New Orleans for Facilier)
- They both take royals as prisoners at one point. (Prince Naveen, Princess Jasmine)
- They both betray a lead protagonist who trusted them at one point. (Prince Naveen, The Sultan)
- Both being revived by Hades outside their films. (in Hercules: Hercules and the Arabian Night in Jafar's case; in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom in Facilier's case). Ironically, Jafar ends up being dragged below the River Styx when his revival is completely halted with the destruction of his staff in Hercules and the Arabian Night, and Facilier ends up being dragged to Voodoo Hell when his talisman is destroyed in his film.
- Both also die as a result of a magical object being destroyed that is implied to be what lets them live (Jafar died when his lamp melted due to the lamp being his life-source as a genie in Return of Jafar, and was later "re-killed" when his staff was broken and dragged down the River Styx in Hercules and the Arabian Night, and Facilier is dragged to the Voodoo version of Hell due to the demons interpreting the destruction of his talisman as failure to live up to his promise).
- Facilier shows a few commonalities with Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove:
- They are both originally trusted by the movies main protagonist. (Naveen and Kuzco)
- They are both in movies adapted and loosely based on classic fairy tales.
- They are both tall and skinny.
- They both transform a royal main character into an animal. (Frog for Naveen, llama for Kuzco)
- They both are comedic villains.
- They both have a bumbling character part of the royal court that does their bidding. (Lawrence, Kronk)
- They both despise those with more power than they have. (Big Daddy, Kuzco)
- They both turn into animals. (Facilier turns into a frog in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Yzma turns into a cat at the end of the movie)
- They both, at least at one point, attempted to draw a geographic area into eternal darkness (Yzma, in an original draft of The Emperor's New Groove, attempted to draw Kuzco's kingdom into eternal darkness via an ancient demon in order to preserve her youth, and Facilier was to sell all the souls of New Orleans to his "Friends of the Other Side" in exchange for power.)
- Dr. Facilier is the second Disney villain to be killed by a Disney heroine in their debut film. (Shan Yu is the first)
- Dr. Facilier is the third Disney Villain to tempt a Disney Princess (Tiana) with an offer to make her dreams come true; the first two being The Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Ursula from The Little Mermaid, tempting Snow White and Ariel, respectively. Unlike them, however, his offer doesn't work on Tiana, who finally realized what mattered (although some book adaptations of the film have her initially succumbing to that temptation).
- Dr. Facilier is the first Disney African-American villain.