- “You have disturbed the dirt!”
- ―Gaetan Moliére
Gaetan "Mole" Moliére is a character in Atlantis: The Lost Empire who serves as mineralogist and excavations expert of the expedition to find the lost continent of Atlantis. He would reappear in the direct-to-video sequel Atlantis: Milo's Return.
Moliére has extensive knowledge of geology and is a pioneer in the new science of tectonics. He serves as an adviser to Mining National du France, Ottoman Mining, Australian Opal Inc., New South Wales Coal, Slate and Granite, Italy, and American Coal and Lumber. He has developed or invented 62 independent mining and excavation vehicles, tools, or related equipment. Moliére holds patents on 59 of said inventions.
He has developed acute senses, particularly taste and smell, enabling him to correctly identify any type of mineral or soil without benefit or aid of any scientific apparatus 98.75% of the time.
Gaetan Moliére was born to a middle-class working family and was the youngest of four brothers. Both of his parents were teachers. His father, Christof Moliére, teaches University courses at the Sorbonne and his mother, Gabrielle Moliére, is a retired music teacher.
Gaetan displayed an early interest in subterranean pursuits at the age of 7 when he began exploring the vast sewer networks that lie underneath old Paris. By the age of 13, Moliére had developed a specialized type of goggles and headgear to wear while exploring caves in the surrounding countryside, as the sewers and catacombs held no further challenge or mysteries for him. He entered the Sorbonne at age 17, but left soon after when given the opportunity to act as special technical adviser to a local mining company.
Soon thereafter, Moliére developed what could be termed his "specialty" of the ability to "taste" and identify various soils. He is sensitive to the light and generally distrustful of those he does not know well. He eats only roots, burrowing animals, and, if rumor is to be believed, insects.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
- “You have disturbed the dirt! Dirt from around the globe spanning the centuries! (gasps) What have you done?!? England must never merge with France!”
- ―Gaetan Moliere
Mole participates in the expedition that locates the Shepherd's Journal in Iceland. He is later talked into agreeing to locate a giant crystal pictured in the book and sell it on the black market for a hefty price.
Milo James Thatch is warned on numerous occasions by Dr. Joshua Sweet regarding Mole's unusual behavior. This includes Mole's outrage when Milo discovers his bed being used to display the various lands Mole's dirt collection comes from and Dr. Sweet punishing him for his rude welcome and later telling Milo that it would be in his best interest not to know Mole's back-story; Audrey Ramirez once told him that particular story, which she shouldn't have.
When the submarine Ulysses is attacked by a Leviathan, he and Vincenzo Santorini used one of the Sub Pods to battle the mechanical beast until they were ordered to retreat with the Aqua-Evacs following the destruction of the Ulysses. Mole and Vinny's Sub Pod is the only one to escape the Leviathan and surface into an air-pocket that leads to Atlantis.
Mole operates The Digger through their journey, used only when running into obstacles too great for or when Vinny runs low on explosives. Throughout the journey, he and Vinny would participate in pulling pranks on the young inexperienced Milo before he is taken in during a rest stop.
When the expedition gets dropped into a cavern as a result of escaping hostile fireflies, Mole is able to determine that they are at the base of a dormant volcano and that it could be reawaken by an extreme explosive force. Upon their discovery of the Atlanteans, Mole becomes enamored with Princess Kidagakash when she displays her ability to speak French, but his attempt at flirtation is met with a punch to the face.
Later, when the group is considering on who should "talk" to Kida—someone who has "good people skills," won't scare Kida away, and "speak the language"—Mole eagerly volunteers so to have a chance at her. However, Rourke hand selects Milo, reducing Mole to tears. Luckily, the Frenchman manages to gorge on an Atlantean lunch shortly afterwards.
After the Heart of Atlantis is recovered, Milo makes a plea to the others regarding what their actions will do. Mole is among those who side with Milo and participates in the battle to stop Rourke. He recognizes that the volcano has awaken when the Gyro-Evac crashes and helps bring the Heart of Atlantis is returned to save the city from destruction.
Mole is honored for his bravery in saving Atlantis. Upon returning to the surface, he would outfit his crystal to fit over the center of his bow-tie. However, he displays a sense of discomfort being dressed up and immediately disrobes and buries himself in one of the potted plants Preston Whitmore has in his study.
Atlantis: Milo's Return
Mole would join the others in returning to Atlantis briefly in informing Milo and Kida of what is happening on the surface.
Mole was envisioned to be a comedic character from the start, but the filmmakers and designers had trouble figuring how he should look visually. Many early designs saw a more serious looking Mole before they saw the way story artist Chris Ure drew the character making him appear more rodent like. They took that design as the basis for the way Mole would look, adding that he was similar to Peanuts character "Pig-Pen."
Supervising animator Anthony DeRosa had further challenges, due in large part to the character's specialized headgear. Because there were numerous gadgets connected to the headgear, this resulted in more detail and design needed. De Rosa also had trouble looking for a look to the character that made him appear French before finding a profile of Charles de Gaulle and based further facial designs off of that.
The voice of Mole was performed by Corey Burton. Burton noted that performing Mole required him to let the character leap out of him by making funny voices. At the same time, he had to throw himself into the same and believe that he was immersed into the film's world as though it were real.