WATCH: Will Smith on why he was terrified to take on the role of Genie in the new Aladdin
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'It was like someone said "We're going to redo The Godfather, and we're thinking of you for the Al Pacino role!"'
In the lead-up to the release of Disney's new live-action movie Aladdin, JOE was lucky enough to interview both the new Aladdin (Mena Messaud) and Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), and those full chats will be up on JOE and The Big Reviewski very soon.
However, we were also invited to an exclusive press conference in London, where we also hung out with movie's director and co-writer Guy Ritchie, the movie's composer Alan Menken (the guy behind 'Under The Sea', 'Prince Ali', 'Be Our Guest' and so many more Disney classics!), as well as the new Genie himself, Will Smith!
We already discussed Will Smith's hilarious, gross "Snot Story" with Naomi Scott, but during the press conference, he was asked what was it like to fill the shoes of the late, great Robin Williams, and for one of the most iconic roles in movie history:
"When you get that call, 'Hey, we're gonna redo Aladdin, and we want you to be a part of it!', it's like 'Hey Will, we're going to redo The Godfather, and we're thinking of you for the Al Pacino role!' It's like, dude, you don't want to go anywhere near those kinds of roles.
"Robin didn't leave much room for improvement with the Genie. So the first thing I thought of was that it was going to be live-action, so I knew that would give us some opportunities, and that it would look and feel different because it was live-action.
"And the next thing I discovered was that Robin Williams had actually revolutionised what you could do in an animated film. Before that time, nobody really using that amount of current references and things like that. So he had created this omnipresent genie who had been forward and backward in time, and he had the full scope of time and human experience to draw from for his comedy, and that was revolutionary."
At this point, composer Menken takes over to tell the audience one of the biggest differences he noticed between Smith and Williams' genies:
"When Robin went into the studio, he would do one take, and then another take and another take and another take, and then they would cut them all together.
"You had to do it right, and in real time. You filled those shoes, and then some."
Smith takes over again: "That didn't make it any easier. It didn't make any less scary. They captured something that was for a generation. When you're marking people's childhoods, so what I wanted to do was to create a performance that was an homage to Robin, with the songs and everything that people would still connect to, but then be able to add that new hip-hop flavour."
Check out his answer in full right here:
“Robin didn’t leave much room for improvement!” Will Smith on the fear of playing the Genie: pic.twitter.com/l5qD1gHzTp
— JOE.ie (@JOEdotie) May 10, 2019
Aladdin is released in Irish cinemas on Wednesday 22 May.
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