It’s been a question from the moment Disney announced Guy Ritchie would be directing a live-action Aladdin film with Will Smith in the role of The Genie. The iconic role was brought to vibrant life by the late, great Robin Williams in the original animated feature, but more than that, he was big and blue.
Disney just gave Entertainment Weekly the first images of Smith as The Genie. At least this is how he looks in this scene, Ritchie hints that The Genie is capable of shifting into a multitude of forms and hues.
Smith was cast as the wish-granting Genie because he fit Ritchie’s vision for the character as “a muscular 1970s Dad.”
“He was big enough to feel like a force — not so muscular that he looked like he was counting his calories, but formidable enough to look like you knew when he was in the room,” said Ritchie.
Aladdin’s The Genie is so tightly identified with Robin Williams’ original performance. At the same time others have played The Genie on TV and Broadway and added their own wonderful takes on the character. Still how Smith’s portrayal will make the role his own is a big question.
“Whenever you’re doing things that are iconic, it’s always terrifying. 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.
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.”
Naomi Scott, who plays Jasmine, says of her being cast in the film:
“Having a Disney princess that looked something like me, I think was really powerful. Jasmine’s main objective at the beginning is to really protect her people and to do right by them. She definitely isn’t a finished article at the beginning of the movie, but she has this beautiful arc and progression, and she goes from asking for what she wants to just taking it, and displaying that she is a leader.”
We’re pretty optimistic. Smith has been making box office magic for years, now he can make magic on the big screen too as The Genie. Disney must have some confidence in Ritchie’s vision for a live-action Aladdin. We’ll all find out on May 24, 2019.