Will Smith is officially the Genie -- and he knows how important the character is to so many

By Ale Russian
December 19, 2018 11:27 AM

Will Smith is officially the Genie — and he knows how important the character is to so many.

The actor, 50, appears on the latest cover of Entertainment Weekly alongside co-stars Mena Massoud, 27, and Naomi Scott, 25, in the exclusive first look at Disney’s upcoming live-action Aladdin. The animated movie first captured hearts when it hit theaters in 1992, with the late comedian Robin Williams stealing the show as the wise-cracking Genie.

Fast forward 26 years and Smith finds himself in the difficult position of bringing back a character that generations know and love.

“Whenever you’re doing things that are iconic, it’s always terrifying,” Smith told EW. “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.”

RELATED: Will Smith Shares First Aladdin Poster: ‘Can’t Wait for Y’all to See Me BLUE!’

Entertainment Weekly cover
Disney

Instead of trying to recreate the original Genie, Smith drew from his previous roles like Independence DayBad Boys and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to find his version of the blue wish-granter who is trapped in a lamp before Aladdin frees him.

“I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different,” he said. “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.”

He continues, “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.”

Aladdin hits theaters May 24, 2019.

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