Following the success of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book (and, soon, The Lion King, which is going to make ALL the money), Disney is giving the live-action remake treatment to Aladdin. It’s one of the Mouse House’s most beloved animated films, with an instantly iconic performance from Robin Williams as the Genie. In the new Guy Ritchie-directed Aladdin, however, the magical blue dude is being played by Will Smith.
“Whenever you’re doing things that are iconic, it’s always terrifying,” the Suicide Squad actor told Entertainment Weekly. “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.” (Or The Simpsons superstar Dan Castellaneta for one direct-to-video movie.) Eventually, Smith “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.”
Smith re-recorded a new version of “Friend Like Me,” which was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars (it lost… to “A Whole New World”). “I think it’ll stand out as unique even in the Disney world,” he said. “There hasn’t been a lot of that hip-hop flavor in Disney history.” EW also released a first-look image of Smith as the Genie (who Ritchie describes as being a “muscular 1970s dad”), and everyone is making the same joke. Is it a good joke? No, it’s a Sinbad one.