William Cecil Clayton is the main antagonist 1999 Disney in the movie Tarzan, replacing the first act's hunter Sabor shortly after her death.
Clayton usually acted like a calm, chivalrous gentleman, but in truth, he was in fact violent, selfish, greedy, and ruthless. Clayton was very manipulative using the Porters to get him to Africa and manipulating Tarzan into showing him where the gorillas were by telling him that Tarzan's love interest, Jane, was devastated about not being able to see gorillas. He thought that gorillas and any other creature that wasn't human were nothing more than beasts and wanted to use the gorillas to make himself rich. A talented hunter and tracker, Clayton was a very dangerous man.
Randy Haycock, the supervising animator for Clayton, said in an interview on the Special Edition 2 DVD "We tried to come up with one word to describe the character and the word we came up with was charismatic. He's brutal, he's malicious and the part of him that’s charismatic and charming is simply there to hide his true nature, that's brutal and malicious". He ranked #24 in the top 30 Disney villains (One better than Madame Mim but one under Pete.)
In Tarzan, Clayton, a veteran hunter and guide, serves as guide for Jane and her father Archimedes Q. Porter on an expedition to Africa in search for gorillas, but his secret agenda is to use the trip as a means to hunt the gorillas to sell on the black market at £300 Sterling each (a substantial amount of money in those times). Clayton is arrogant and totally convinced of his own abilities and invulnerability. With the introduction of Tarzan to the expedition, Clayton makes several attempts (all unsuccessful) to get the location of the gorillas from Tarzan, who is far more fascinated by what Jane has to teach him about humans.
With both his and his employers' goals thwarted, Clayton prepares to leave Africa with Jane and Professor Porter. Manipulating Tarzan's feelings for Jane, he tells the ape man that they'll be able to stay longer if he takes them to the gorillas. This is of course, not true -- Jane would have had to return to England at some point anyway. Tarzan, however, is convinced, and has Kerchak, the leader of the gorilla family, distracted so that he can lead Jane to the gorillas. Kerchak returns unexpectedly though, and is angered by the trespassers and attacks Clayton, considering him the greatest threat. Luckily for Clayton, Tarzan manages to pin down Kerchak. Disowned from the family by Kerchak, he agrees to return to England with Jane and the professor, only to be surprised and imprisoned with them by Clayton and the captain's crew (who working for him after turning on the captain and his officers) when they board the ship. Now that the villain no longer needs them, he wants them all out of the way so that he and his cronies can capture the gorillas and sell them to a zoo.
The heroes manage to escape, scare Clayton's henchmen (trapping them in the same cages they intended to trap the gorillas in), and free the gorillas, including Kala, Tarzan's adoptive mother. From the undergrowth, Clayton shoots at Tarzan, but the bullet only grazes his arm. Kerchak is fatally shot when he charges Clayton. After knocking Jane aside savagely with his rifle, putting her out of the fight, Clayton confronts Tarzan, who takes the battle to the treetops. The two of them exchange blows briefly, where Tarzan causes Clayton to drop his rifle. Tarzan then takes the rifle and points it at him. Clayton mocks Tarzan by telling him to "be a man" and shoot him. Tarzan says he's not a man like him and smashes the rifle. After watching the pieces of his gun fall to the ground, Clayton flies into a rage and draws his machete. Tarzan jumps back into a mass of vines to escape Clayton's furious swipes. He manages to entangle Clayton in the vines, but Clayton mindlessly hacks at them with his machete in an attempt to free himself, not noticing that one vine has slipped like a noose around his own neck. Tarzan tries to warn him, but in his rage Clayton accidentally cuts the vine he's holding on to. He and Tarzan plummet towards the ground. Tarzan lands safely in the grass, but Clayton is hanged by the vine when it snaps his neck. A flash of lightning illuminates his hanging corpse, swaying ever so slightly in the breeze, briefly before he is left to the jungle.
Unlike Sykes and Doctor Phillium Benedict, Clayton is one of the few Disney villains whose dark nature is not evident to any character, even the viewer, until he reveals it. This is also true for Gaston, Syndrome, Oogie Boogie, and Lotso. Whereas viewers almost immediately notice the villainous natures of characters, such as Scar and Ursula, especially after the first viewing, Clayton merely appears as a well-meaning, if paranoid and hotheaded, bodyguard and semi-assistant to the Professor, and no one, except for Kerchak (who distrusts all humans), distrusts him or notices his villainous nature until he chooses to reveal it much like Lyle T. Rourke from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The way Clayton dies and the flash of lightning that shows his dead body has led many viewers to believe that his death is probably the most dark and violent death in all of the Disney movies.
There was an alternate ending to the original movie where Clayton and Tarzan fight on a boat where Clayton has some gorillas in cages and is trying to make an escape along with his henchmen.
In this version Clayton battles Tarzan with a machine gun and a dagger while making references to Tarzan being a savage and not a real man, which is reminiscent of the statement made in the actual ending. In this version, he dies when some barrels of oil catch fire and blow up the boat both Tarzan and Clayton are trapped on the boat but Clayton meets his end when support ropes tie up his legs and bring him down with the boat causing him to drown.
This ending was dropped because it was felt that it was more appropriate to have the final fight in the jungle and allow the jungle to play a part in Clayton’s downfall (the vine around his neck). They also wanted Clayton to appear more animalistic and rely more on brute force in his battle with Tarzan. Hence he has a lot less dialog in the final version, except for his xenophobic remark, and is a lot more violent in his attacks. This alternate ending can be found on the special edition 2 disc DVD.
Legend of Tarzan
Clayton makes two flashback appearances in the TV series The Legend of Tarzan. In the episode Tarzan and the Gauntlet of Vengeance it's revealed that he has a sister, Lady Waltham (voiced by Amanda Donohoe). She (or rather her valet, Hobson) kidnaps Jane, Tantor, Terk, and the Professor, and injects Tarzan with a fatal poison (via blowdart) and informs him that the antidote lies far away on a distant mountain named "Clayton's Peak". He, therefore, has a choice, to suffer as she had (and lose those he loves) or as Clayton had (and lose his own life). This episode also shows the scene where Clayton is accidentally hung by a vine.
Clayton also "appears" in the episode Race Against Time, when Tarzan gets bitten by a spider that causes him to hallucinate; because of this, he mistakes Professor Porter, who is holding a bamboo cane for Clayton and his gun.
Clayton found Donald and Goofy in a bamboo thicket after they landed in the Deep Jungle. Suspicion over Clayton's activity arose when Clayton said that Donald and Goofy were "not much use for hunting gorillas", when he and Jane Porter actually came there for research. He questioned Tarzan about the gorillas' nesting grounds, secretly desiring to hunt them down. Eventually Tarzan agreed to take him to the nesting grounds, but on their way there, Clayton attempted to shoot Terk, a young gorilla and Tarzan's friend. He was stopped by Sora, Donald, Goofy and Tarzan, and was forbidden by the furious Jane from approaching the gorillas. His anger and determination to hunt the gorillas lured the Heartless to him, and the darkness in his heart took him over. He kidnapped Jane and Terk and imprisoned them in the jungle. Then, he hunted out the location of the gorillas with the help of the Heartless. Just as he was about to kill them, Sora, Donald, Goofy and Tarzan arrived, finding that Clayton had nearly lost his heart. Sora and company did battle with him and his Heartless. Although he proved to be proficient at using a shotgun at long range and even close range, swinging it like a club, Clayton and his Heartless were easily defeated. Clayton, outnumbered, summoned a Heartless called the Stealth Sneak, mounting it and starting a boss battle. When Clayton was thrown from his steed, Sora defeated him. Afterward, the Stealth Sneak fell and ultimately crushed Clayton to death; the whereabouts of his body after the battle unknown, although it may have disappeared with the Heartless.
Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure
Clayton is one of the three main Disney villains in Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure, serving as a villain in the levels based on Tarzan. He first appears on the second level of the Tarzan story, The Human Camp. Just as in the movie, Clayton's evil nature is not apparent in this level and instead, he appears as simply a cranky man. The skater (either Young Tarzan, Young Jane, Young Tantor, Young Terk, or a custom skater) must first rattle several pots and pans to wake Clayton up from his nap. When he rushes out to find what's wrong, the skater and the gorillas destroy his tent. Clayton, enraged, leaves while yelling "the Queen will hear about this."
Off screen, Clayton captures all of the gorillas and puts them on the boat back to England (known as Clayton's Ship in the game), showing his true colors. Clayton patrols the cargo hold of the ship to make sure the Gorillas don't escape. Kala, who somehow got free, tells you to jump on the large cage at just the right time to imprison him so Tarzan can free the Gorillas. The skater does so, and Clayton becomes trapped. Clayton is the only villain where the skater that defeats him is not necessarily the main hero.
- When the lightning flashes in the original movie, viewers can see Clayton's shadow in the flash, dangling from the vine-turned-noose for a brief moment. This makes Clayton's death scene one of the most graphic in Disney's animated history -- characters are rarely shown to be dead because of injuries; they usually fall and are never seen again (Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast), or lie dead, but without a scratch on them (Mufasa from The Lion King and Megara from Hercules).
- Clayton is shown to be a much braver villain than Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Scar from The Lion King, and Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (to name a few), not fearing death when Tarzan is about to kill him.
- Clayton is voiced by Brian Blessed.
- Clayton was animated by Randy Haycock.
- Clayton is also similar to Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas as they both travel from England as for greedy reasons. Clayton to Africa for the gorillas and Ratcliffe to West Virginia to claim the gold that he believes is there. The main difference in the end is that Clayton falls and is hanged by a vine while Ratcliffe is betrayed by his comrades, arrested, and taken back to England to be sentenced to prison.
- Clayton is the main antagonist because he has bigger plans than Sabor.
- Brian Blessed states that playing Clayton is one of his favorite roles ever.
- Brian Blessed also did Tarzan's yells.