Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it’s the moments that take your breath away. Will Smith is Genie in Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin, and we now have our first glimpse of the famous funnyman actor dressed up and ready to go to the ball. Helmed by British director Guy Ritchie, the upcoming film recently had the veil of secrecy lifted with a brief teaser trailer that held back on delivering the goods, but now Entertainment Weekly delivers the first look at Genie that fans have been craving.
Described as a cross between Hitch and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Smith’s take on Genie is going for homage rather than imitation with regard to the brilliance of Robin Williams’ take on the role in the 1992 original animated classic. “I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different,” Smith says. “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.”
The final version of Smith’s Genie in his blue floating lamp form isn’t quite ready for showtime, but Ritchie did confirm that Genie will be blue at some point. “I wanted a muscular 1970s dad,” Ritchie says about the look he’s going for with Smith’s Genie. “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.” Smith’s goateed Genie, with a beaming smile and glorious topknot, will definitely carry a certain swagger that is rare in the magical world of Disney. “I think it’ll stand out as unique even in the Disney world,” Smith says. “There hasn’t been a lot of that hip-hop flavor in Disney history.”
A Disney musical about a street urchin who unleashes a genie and falls in love with a princess, the animated Aladdin appealed to adults as much as kids. And now that those kids are all grown up, Disney has quite a task ahead of them in proving that a live-action version 26 years later is necessary. Aladdin helped cement Disney’s animation dominance in 1992, and they now pin their hopes on the 2019 version cementing audience acceptance of their live-action remakes. Disney began ramping up production of live-action remakes of its animated classics with 2015’s Cinderella, 2016’s The Jungle Book, and 2017’s smash hit Beauty and the Beast, and next up they have Dumbo, followed by Aladdin, The Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, The Little Mermaid, and Pinocchio.
Aladdin rubs the lamp on May 24, 2019. Check out your first looks at Genie below. As Hitch said, “I saw that going differently in my mind,” but we’ll have to wait to see the finished product before making a final judgement.