Dr. Facilier is the villain of The Princess and the Frog, which is the forty-ninth animated movie from the Walt Disney Company. It is based on a 2002 children’s novel called The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker, which in turn was based on the Grimm Brothers’ German fairy tale, The Frog Prince.
Also known as The Shadow Man, Dr. Facilier is an evil witch doctor who practices a dark form of voodoo magic. The other characters in the movie all refer to him as The Shadow Man. Only Dr. Facilier refers to himself as Dr. Facilier. His plan is to rule New Orleans, and use that as a springboard to rule the world. To accomplish this, Dr. Facilier intends to use help from his “friends on the other side,” aka the spirit world. This character has become a popular villain among Disney fans and is now a primary member of the Disney Villains franchise.
The character was voiced by Keith David, who is a well-known voice actor who has done a lot of work in the animation industry. In addition, the character is the first animated African-American Disney villain and is one of the few Disney villains to die in the movie in which he appears (along with Mother Gothel and Turbo). The character was inspired by the late jazz singer Cab Calloway, including the way the character moves, which is similar to the way Cab Calloway moved.
The character is a sneaky and devious one. Like Disney villains Ursula and Hades, Dr. Facilier uses tricks to persuade his victims into making deals. In addition, he can read their present and past with tarot cards, and can look into their futures, as well… and then offers to change said futures around “some” for them, for a price, naturally. The deals he makes usually backfire on the victims, though, because Dr. Facilier is underhanded. He gives his victims exactly what they say they want, and what he says he will give them, though the exact nature of what he does is usually not in the spirit of the intent of what the victim wanted or what he said they would do.
An example of this is the way he told Naveen, the male hero of the story, that he would need “green” (which he implied, but did not actually state, meant money) if he wanted a future with the freedom to “hop from place to place.” Yet, when Facilier made the deal with Naveen, it was revealed that the wording of the deal was more literal, and Naveen was turned into a frog.
Dr. Facilier’s motives are to make money, so he can gain social power. After witnessing Eli “Big Daddy” LaBouff, the wealthiest man in New Orleans, give a large tip to the newspaper boy, Dr. Facilier decides that there surely is away, somewhere, to make himself just as wealthy as that, if not even more wealthy. At a café later, Dr. Facilier overhears the waitress Tiana (the female heroine of the story) talking with Big Daddy’s daughter Charlotte about Prince Naveen of Maldonia arriving in town to marry Charlotte. Dr. Facilier gets the idea for how to become wealthy from overhearing this conversation.
Dr. Facilier makes the deal with Naveen, and also makes one with the valet of Naveen, named Lawrence. When the deal is done, Naveen is turned into a frog, gathers some of Naveen’s blood into a talisman that allows the wearer to assume any shape, and gives it to the traitorous Lawrence, who assumes Naveen’s appearance. The goal is for Lawrence to pose as Naveen and marry Charlotte, then kill Big Daddy to get his wealth (which would go to Charlotte, and Lawrence as her fake husband). Facilier and Lawrence would share the wealth, with Facilier secretly getting the larger portion of it.
Naveen escapes the cupboard that Facilier and Lawrence put him in, and he finds Tiana. He thinks she is a princess because of the costume she is wearing and promises her a reward if she assists him in breaking the curse by kissing him. Tiana does so, reluctantly. Because she is not a real princess, she is pulled under Facilier’s curse, too, and also becomes a frog.
Later, the blood in Lawrence’s talisman runs out, and Lawrence and Dr. Facilier discover Naveen is gone when they go to get more from him. Facilier is forced to make a deal with voodoo spirits to find and capture Naveen. The deal is for him to hand over the spirits of all of the people in New Orleans after he gets his fortune from Big Daddy. The voodoo spirits then capture Naveen and bring him to Facilier.
Naveen uses his friend Ray, who is a firefly, to stop the wedding of Charlotte and Lawrence by snatching the talisman. Facilier squashes Ray, but Ray does manage to get the talisman and give it to Tiana. Facilier briefly turns her human and promises to give her the restaurant of her own that she always wanted if she gives him the talisman. Thinking of her deceased dad, she almost does it, but then remembers that though he didn’t have the material thing he wanted most, he had lots of love. She refuses to give back the talisman, so Facilier tells her she should have taken the deal, and turns her back into a frog, telling her she can spend her life that way.
Tiana uses her sticky frog tongue to snatch back the talisman and break it. Tiana and Naveen are restored to their human forms, and Facilier loses his ability to repay the debt to the voodoo spirits. Instead of taking all of the spirits in New Orleans, they will just take him to the voodoo realm with them. They come to collect the debt, and he tells them that he can still pay them back, as he tries to gather up the broken pieces of the talisman. They take him to the voodoo world with them anyway, and the final image Naveen and Tiana have of his face as he is dragged into the voodoo world is later found imprinted on a local gravestone, implying that he has indeed crossed over to that side.