Jonathan Freeman, Aladdin 's Jafar, Remembers His 'Partner' Gilbert Gottfried: 'Breaks My Heart'
Jemal Countess/Getty; Walt Disney/ Courtesy Everett Collection
Jonathan Freeman is remembering Gilbert Gottfried and their "wonderfully collaborative partnership" while working on the 1992 Disney film Aladdin.
In a statement shared with PEOPLE, the 72-year-old actor — known for voicing the evil Grand vizier Jafar alongside Gottfried's fast-talking parrot Iago in Aladdin — recalls his friendship with the late comedian, who died on Tuesday at age 67.
What "started on the old Disney Lot, in Studio B, at the corner of Dopey Drive and Goofy Lane, turned into a 31 year marriage between two of Disney's most delicious villains," Freeman says, recalling their recording sessions.
"Losing a partner is never easy. It breaks my heart," Freeman continues. "Gilbert will be greatly missed. Jafar said it best… 'I love the way your foul little mind works!' "
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"My condolences," he adds. "And much love to his wife Dara, and his terrific kids, Lily and Max."
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Gottfried and Freeman stayed in touch over the years, making public appearances together at events including a 2015 press tour they did with the rest of the cast of Aladdin.
The standup star even visited Freeman when the actor reprised his role as Jafar in the Broadway adaptation of Aladdin.
Also on Tuesday, Freeman and his Aladdin costars Linda Larkin and Scott Weinger released a joint statement on their respective Instagrams in wake of Gottfried's death, writing, "The world was lucky to have you, and so were we."
"Our hearts are shattered at the loss of our beloved friend, collaborator, behind-the-scenes mischief-maker, and most irreverent spirit, full of light and magic. Gilbert Gottfried, you were one of a kind," the trio said.
Their individual posts came with a series of throwback photos, Freeman sharing a shot of him and Gottfried posing with a Jafar and Iago costumed character outside the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
Gottfried died at 2:35 p.m. ET on Tuesday "from Recurrent Ventricular Tachycardia due to Myotonic Dystrophy type II," his longtime friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz told PEOPLE in an official statement.
Since then, many of Gottfried's friends and former costars have penned touching tributes to the late star on their social media stages.
Broadway's Aladdin honored Gottfried too, with Don Darryl Rivera — the only actor to have played Iago on the Great White Way since the show began in 2011 — speaking out about Gottfried in a post-curtain call speech.
"We'd like to take a moment to celebrate the life of a comedy legend, a funnyman with an indelible voice, the man who breathed life into Iago for the animated film, Mr. Gilbert Gottfried," Rivera said in the speech, video of which was released by Disney Theatricals. "I, along with five other actors worldwide, have the distinct privilege to bring Iago to life on stage. But I think one of the main reasons this character is who he is is because of what Gilbert brought to the animated film: his comedy and that voice. That voice that The New York Times once said sounded like a busted Cuisinart."
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Rivera said he first met Gottfried "on this very stage" shortly after the curtain closed on the show. "He put his arm around me and we snapped a few photos. But then, I pulled out this," Rivera said while holding a VHS copy of Aladdin.
In response, Gottfried's eyes "lit up like it was the magic lamp itself," Rivera recalled. "He signed it for me and it's still one of my most treasured possessions," the actor added.
"Gilbert was really kind and sweet and surprisingly soft-spoken, and I know he will be deeply missed by his friends and his fans," Rivera continued before reading the Gottfried family's statement asking fans to "keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert's honor."
"So on behalf of the entire company here at Aladdin, Mr. Gottfried, thank you for the laughs," he concluded.