Atlantis: Disney
May 14, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

In 1996, Disney regulars Wise, Trousdale, Murphy, and producer Don Hahn were debating their next project over a pitcher of margaritas. ”We wanted adventurers thrown together by fate, strange underground civilizations, bizarre creatures — and flying machines,” says Wise. ”’Atlantis’ seemed like a nice vessel to contain all that.” The friends soon floated a plot: In 1914, a ragtag troop led by earnest amateur cartographer Milo Thatch fights its way to the legendary lost land — and finds people instead of a ruin.

Fox was their first choice to voice Milo. ”We [envisioned] a kind of Jimmy Stewart, Harold Lloyd guy,” explains Wise. ”Michael has such a distinct voice, and a wonderful, spunky underdog quality.” According to the directors, the actor let his son decide if Dad would work on ”Atlantis” or another otherworldly animated project, ”Titan A.E.” Boasts Trousdale, ”The 8-year-old saw the coolness of our movie.” Or maybe he just got a look at the ”Titan A.E.” script.

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