|“||I could use a challenge, because after I get rid of you, rounding up your little ape family will be ALL TOO EASY!||„|
|~ Clayton taunting Tarzan.|
|“||Clayton: Go ahead, shoot me. Be a man. [Tarzan puts the rifle's muzzle on Clayton's neck and fakes a gunshot with his voice, scaring Clayton]
Tarzan: Not a man like you. [Tarzan shatters Clayton's rifle]
|~ Clayton's last words before beginning his pursuit on Tarzan which would inevitably lead to his death.|
Clayton is the main antagonist of Disney's 37th full-length animated feature film Tarzan, which is based on the 1912 American novel Tarzan of the Apes by the late Edgar Rice Burroughs and a posthumous antagonist in The Legend of Tarzan. He is Tarzan's former friend, now arch-nemesis, and he is also the former "bodyguard" of Archimedes Q. Porter and Jane Porter.
In the film as well as in both the video game tie-in and Kingdom Hearts he was voiced by Brian Blessed, who also played El Supremo in Freddie as F.R.O.7., the Nekross King in Wizards vs Aliens, and Mr. Avericci in Archie's Weird Mysteries. In the musical, he was portrayed by Donnie Keshawarz.
|“||What's going on here!? (Tarzan: Clayton! Clayton, help!) Have we met? Ah yes, the ape-man. (Tarzan: Clayton...you... you!) I'm so sorry about the rude welcome, old boy. But I couldn't have you making a scene when we put your "furry friends" in their cages. (Tarzan: Why?) Why? For 300 pounds sterling a head! Actually, I have you to thank, my boy. Couldn't have done it without you. Lock him up with the others.||„|
|~ Clayton revealing his true nature.|
Clayton initially appears as a chivalrous and polite gentleman, albeit with a delicate temper and intolerance for treating the African expedition as a vacation experience rather than a business endeavor. He is also shown to have a hatred towards animals as he finds gorillas to be savage beasts, despite Jane suggesting otherwise.
As time goes on throughout the film, Clayton's true nature begins to unfold: a manipulative, vicious and cruel poacher who plans to make wealth through selling gorillas. According to the audio commentary of Tarzan on DVD, Clayton's actions (during his final moments) in the film were meant to mirror the ferocious leopard Sabor, symbolizing Clayton's increasing lack of humanity and descent into animalistic madness. This is further supported by the fact he initially had no lethal intention for heroes or the gorillas (except Kerchak because he nearly killed him earlier) but he soon spends his final moments trying to kill Tarzan in complete anger (although he still makes no attempt to harm Jane or her dad).
Also, Clatyon never shows any signs of cowardice; even when he is cornered with his own gun by an angry Tarzan, rather than begging for his life, Clayton instead mocks Tarzan to go ahead and pull the trigger on him so that he can be a 'real man'.
Clayton first appeared about 30 minutes into the movie as a veteran hunter and guide hired by Jane and her father Archimedes Q. Porter on an expedition to Africa in search for gorillas. Upon returning back to their camp after spotting several gorilla nests, Jane confessed that she saw the gorillas messing around in the camp before they fled along with Tarzan, a man who was raised by the gorillas during childhood. At first, Clayton finds Jane's story to be ridiculous, but this was not the case when Tarzan appeared in person.
Realizing now that Jane was telling the truth, Clayton made several attempts (all unsuccessful) to get the location of the gorillas from Tarzan, who was far more fascinated by what Jane had to teach him about humans. Days later, a cargo ship arrived to pick up the explorers and escort them back to England, much to their dismay. As the ship's crew loaded up their luggage and supplies, Clayton blamed Jane for distracting herself with teaching Tarzan, but Jane retorted that she was just as upset about not being able to find the gorillas. Upon witnessing Jane tearfully declining Tarzan's proposal to stay in Africa, Clayton manipulated the ape-man into believing that Jane would change her mind if he took them to the gorillas. Having no choice, Tarzan agrees to do so, much to Clayton's delight.
In order to ensure this, Tarzan had his friends Terk and Tantor distract Kerchak (the leader of the gorilla troop) so that he could lead the Porters and Clayton to the gorillas. Upon their arrival and witnessing the gorillas gazing down, Clayton smiles at this and details the gorillas' current location on his map. However, Kerchak returned unexpectedly, though, and was angered by the trespassers and attacked Clayton after the hunter threatened one of the family during a skirmish. Tarzan was then forced to restrain Kerchak to let Jane, Professor Porter and Clayton return back to camp, resulting in his exile from the gorilla pack.
Deciding that he is better off with the humans, Tarzan decides to go to England with Jane and her father. However, while boarding onto their ship, they (along with the ship's captain and his officers) were ambushed and taken hostage by several pirates. Clayton then reveals his true colors by admitting that he was behind the mutiny, revealing his true plan to capture the gorillas and sell them to a zoo for 300 pounds each, sadistically thanking Tarzan for leading him to the gorillas. As Clayton orders several of his men to lock up Tarzan and the others inside the brig, he and his other men left in a small boat loaded with large cages and made way for the gorillas' nests.
The poachers eventually reach the nests and began capturing the gorillas through nets, cages, and burlap sacks. Kerchak attempted to rescue his troop, but too ends up being netted. Clayton attempts to shoot down Kerchak but was interrupted when he and his men heard Tarzan's trademark yell. Tarzan and his friends (who had escaped imprisonment earlier) ambushed and frightened Clayton's men by bringing other animals to help out, freeing the gorillas and trapping several of Clayton's men in the cages.
From the undergrowth, Clayton shoots his gun at Tarzan, the bullet just grazing his arm. Witnessing this, Kerchak furiously charges at Clayton but ends up being fatally shot. Tarzan furiously lunges at Clayton, but Clayton shoots again, forcing Tarzan to retreat up to the tall trees. Clayton decides to follow Tarzan up the trees. Jane tries to stop him, but Clayton knocks her aside with his rifle, then follows Tarzan up the trees.
Clayton scans the mossy branches for his prey when Tarzan leaps onto his shoulders, causing him to drop his gun. The two men wrestle each other as they tumble from branch to branch. Clayton spots his gun in some nearby vines and reaches for it, but Tarzan pulls him back and retrieves the gun himself and points it at Clayton. Rather than begging for his life, Clayton instead mocks Tarzan to "be a man" and shoot him, but Tarzan realizes that doing it would only make him no better than Clayton and instead mimics a loud gunshot. Declaring that he will never be a man like Clayton, Tarzan smashes the gun into pieces as Clayton watches in horror as the remains of his gun fall to the jungle floor.
Clayton then flies into a rage and draws out a machete from his belt and lunges at Tarzan. Tarzan jumps back into a mass of vines to escape Clayton's furious swipes. Thinking quickly, Tarzan tosses a vine at Clayton's wrist to block his blow, then pulls down several more vines to entangle Clayton. However, this only serves to drive Clayton into a blind fury and he aggressively slashes at the vines, unaware that one of them has slipped like a noose around his neck. Seeing this, Tarzan tries to warn him, but in his blind rage, Clayton wouldn't listen to his warnings and chops through the last vine holding him up and plummets with the one still wrapped around his neck. The vine pulls tight with a sickening crunch, snapping his neck, hanging and instantly killing him. Tarzan lands safely just as a flash of lightning briefly reveals the shadow of Clayton's hanged corpse, swaying ever so slightly in the breeze.
Seeing Clayton's corpse, Tarzan can feel nothing but pity for the hunter before comforting a dying Kerchak and taking over the gorilla troop as its new leader.
The Legend of Tarzan
Clayton does not physically appear in the series, but he is mentioned once.
During one episode, Clayton's sister Lady Waltham comes after Tarzan, seeking vengeance for what she saw as her brother's cold-blooded and traitorous murderer, despite the fact that her brother's death was an accident. However, when Tarzan managed at great risk to save her from a fate similar to Clayton's, she came to realize that the man who did this for her could never be a savage killer, learn about her brother's true nature and left the jungle.
In another episode, when Tarzan gets bitten by a spider, he sees Tantor as a mad elephant. This same thing happens with Professor Porter as he sees him as Clayton who is ready to shoot him.
Clayton serves as a supporting antagonist in the Kingdom Hearts game.
He is first seen where he finds Donald and Goofy and brings them back to the tent where they are reunited with Sora. Clayton meets Tarzan and asks for the whereabouts of the gorillas, and Tarzan obeys and reveals the location.
Clayton soon finds Terk the Gorilla and tries to shoot her, but is stopped by Donald. He says that he tried to shoot a dangerous snake attacking Terk, but they do not believe him. Furiously, his anger attracts the Heartless, whom he decides to use to kill off the gorillas.
He later kidnaps Jane and Terk and hides them in the forest and then brings the Heartless to the gorilla location. As the Heartless are about to attack, Tarzan arrives, joined by Sora, Donald and Goofy, and a battle erupts. Clayton takes aim at his enemies and uses his gun as a club, but is defeated.
Clayton was not done yet and called upon the Stealth Sneak to help fight his enemies. Now a bigger threat than before, Clayton battled once more but was knocked down by Sora. As he takes aim at Sora, the Stealth Sneak is subdued and falls upon him, crushing his body and killing him.
- In the Tarzan books, Clayton was Tarzan's biological cousin who had inherited the family estate after the disappearance and deaths of Tarzan's parents John II and Alice Clayton. He was Jane's bumbling fiancee and had some jealousy of Tarzan. Ultimately a goodhearted man, Clayton ends his engagement with Jane before dying of fever.
- The Disney version of Clayton appears to take a lot of influence from the character of Rokoff, the villain of the Tarzan novels. Like Rokoff, Clayton is a savage from civilized society as opposed to Tarzan, the civilized from a so-called "savage" society.
- Aspects of William Cecil Clayton made into Robert Canler, who was also named after a minor character from the novel. Interestingly, Canler was also a villain.
- According to the film commentary, Clayton's outfit was designed to appear like Sabor's yellow fur to designate him as the new villain. When he is introduced, he is covered in shadows that give him the look of spots similar to Sabor's.
- Brian Blessed cited Clayton as one of his two favourite roles which is why he has returned to voice him in multiple media aside from the film unlike many other celebrity-voiced Disney villains.
- Brian Blessed also performed the trademark Tarzan yell for the film after Tony Goldwyn was unable to provide his satisfactory version of the Tarzan yell (though ironically, Goldwyn would do the Tarzan yell in the Kingdom Hearts video games).
- Clayton is marked as one of the few Disney villains to have an excessively brutal and terrifying death, as hanging is a gruesome image, especially for children.
- Clayton's supervising animator is Randy Haycock.
- Clayton's actions has a small impact on the franchise since it was his murder of Kerchak which leads to Tarzan become the new leader of the gorillas and later facing Tublat for leadership when they reunited years later. His death also leads to his sister Lady Waltham traveling to the jungle to avenge him by attempting to kill Tarzan by poisoning him, unaware that it was only an accident and of his true colours.