Will Smith says taking over the role of the beloved Genie from late actor Robin Williams was an intimidating experience. But during his visit with the Good Morning America team on Monday, the global superstar explained how he was able to make the Aladdin character his own.
Disney is flipping the script on its 1992 animated classic with a live-action adaptation set for release later this month. During his GMA appearance, Smith said his take on Genie pays homage to Williams, who voiced the character in the original feature, while bringing “new flavor” to the role, ABC News reports.
In 2014, Williams committed suicide in his California home at the age of 63.
The offer to play Genie “came out of nowhere” and Smith explained on GMA why he was initially reluctant to take the role.
“Robin Williams smashed this thing so hard,” he said. “When you take a role like this, you want to find where there’s some meat left on the bone. What would you do differently?”
One of the selling points for the 50-year-old actor was the live-action aspect of the project.
“The one thing that I latched onto was the idea that it was going to be live-action. The fact that it was live-action, I knew that left a little bit of room,” he said.
Smith also noted his admiration for director Guy Ritchie’s approach to “revolutionize” the remake by including Hip-Hop music in the soundtrack.
“For me, the Hip-Hop angle was the angle that I saw that would be my in,” said Smith.
“Listening to the music and ‘What would I do with the music?’ Really at the end of the day, it was the music that I saw where I could add my flavor, where I could honor the nostalgia and I could pay homage to Robin, but then also be able to add my new flavor,” he added.
Smith later revealed why Aladdin is his favorite project that he has worked on.
“I’ve made some good movies and I’ve made some questionable ones. I’ve made some questionable ones in the past,” he said. “This is such a beautiful, beautiful movie, and Guy Ritchie did such a good job — added such an edge to it. I can, in good conscience, encourage you to go see this one.”
Aladdin hits theaters May 24.