Later this month, Guy Ritchie's live-action remake of Disney's Aladdin will hit theaters and fans of the 1992 animated original can judge for themselves if the new Genie (played by Will Smith) is worthy of the character brought to life by the late Robin Williams.
Of course, it won't be a verbatim recreation of Williams's mile-a-minute performance in which he impersonated everyone from Robert De Niro to Groucho Marx. Instead, Ritchie took the essence of the role and went to a place none of us expected.
During a chat with Empire Magazine for the publication's June issue, the filmmaker said that he wanted his take on the Genie to be like a "'70s bodybuilding dad [who] lifts a lot of weights and simultaneously eats quite a lot of food." Moreover, Ritchie strove to make the character somewhat egotistical, adding that, "the wisest entity in the physical sphere happens to be really vain."
The djinn's ability to take the form of a human helped Smith really get into the mindset of the role. When photos of the character, looking like a normal dude, first surfaced last year, the actor had to quell fans' fears by saying that he would be blue and CGI for most of the runtime. When they finally saw what he meant, however, there was all-out Twitter rebellion. Backlash was stifled yet again when the full trailer was released.
"I was able to did deeper into the experience of the Genie as a more human entity," the blockbuster actor told Empire. "He understands love, he understands yearning, he understands the deep human existential questions. And he understands them because there are many aspects of them he has experienced. I feel like he is able to help Aladdin because his heart yearns in that same fashion."
To be fair, the Genie in the '92 film was also able to turn into a human, trading his skylark blue sheen for a tan, relatable look whenever appearing in public. Nowhere is this evidenced better than when he acts as Aladdin's hype man during the big "Prince Ali" musical number through the streets of Agrabah. Based on the trailers for the remake released so far, Smith will do the same, riding in on a pair of ostriches.
Mena Massoud (Jack Ryan) takes up the role of the eponymous street urchin whose life is changed forever when he finds the Genie's magical lamp in a mystical cave. Naomi Scott (Princess Jasmine, Aladdin's love interest), Marwan Kenzari (Jafar, the main villain), Navid Negahban (The Sultan, Jasmine's father), Nasim Pedrad (Dalia, Jasmine's handmaiden and best friend), Billy Magnussen (Prince Anders, a suitor for Jasmine), Frank Welker (Abu, Aladdins' pet monkey), and Alan Tudyk (Iago, Jafar's pet parrot) all co-star in the upcoming feature.
Aladdin takes a magic carpet ride into theaters everywhere Friday, May 24. Ritchie co-wrote the movie's screenplay with John August (Frankenweenie).