Any of the cast of Disney’s upcoming reboot of Aladdin must be feeling the pressure of bringing a beloved animated character to life, but that’s especially true of Will Smith. The star has the unenviable task of stepping into a role that’s adored around the world thanks to the late, great Robin Williams’ spirited performance in the original 1992 movie.
While speaking to EW, the actor revealed that he tried to look at it from the point of view of what parts of the character had been left unexplored by the previous iteration. However, that proved difficult, as Williams played the role to perfection.
“Whenever you’re doing things that are iconic, it’s always terrifying,” said Smith. “The question is always: Where was there meat left on the bone? Robin didn’t leave a lot of meat on the bone with the character.”
The key difference between Williams’ and Smith’s interpretations may prove to be their musical styles. Smith went on to say that he wanted to bring some hip hop into the Disney world via his portrayal of the Genie, which should definitely give his rendition of the Genie’s numbers – like “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali” – their own flavor that’s distinct from the originals.
“[He] infused the character with a timeless version of himself. I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different. Just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane, versus trying to compete. I think it’ll stand out as unique even in the Disney world. There hasn’t been a lot of that hip-hop flavor in Disney history.”
Director Guy Ritchie, meanwhile, had perhaps the best way of describing how an actor should approach playing the part of the lamp-living, wish-granting Genie, telling EW the following:
“The great thing about the role of the Genie is that it’s essentially a hyperbole for who that individual actor is, so it’s a wonderful platform and tapestry for an actor to fill his boots on.”
From what we’ve seen of the movie so far, Smith will spend much of the film in person, in contrast to the cartoonish blue-skinned being from the animated effort. However, EW confirms that the more familiar appearance for the character will feature as well, it’s just that the CG creation isn’t yet up to scratch enough to show to the public.
Get ready for another Arabian Night when Aladdin hits theaters on May 24th, 2019.