Chill Out

The Fresh Prince has big shoes to fill as he takes view­ers on a mag­i­cal car­pet ride

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Hav­ing faced off against ev­ery­thing from wealthy snobs, alien in­vaders, drug deal­ers, me­chan­i­cal spi­ders and fairies, Will Smith takes on his tough­est role yet, play­ing a mag­i­cal blue be­ing who lives in­side a lamp.

In Disney’s Aladdin, direc­tor Guy Ritchie’s live­ac­tion re­make of the 1992 an­i­mated clas­sic, Will plays the Ge­nie – a role orig­i­nally cre­ated by the late great Robin Wil­liams.


It’s not easy fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of a comedic ge­nius like Robin Wil­liams, even if you’re a mu­sic, ac­tion and com­edy superstar like the Fresh Prince. He de­scribed the process of tak­ing on the Ge­nie as “ter­ri­fy­ing”.

“When­ever you’re do­ing things that are iconic, it’s al­ways ter­ri­fy­ing,” Will told

But it got eas­ier after watch­ing the orig­i­nal movie a few times “and I saw where Robin in­fused the char­ac­ter with a time­less ver­sion of him­self”.

“I said to my­self, ‘What if I just in­fuse the char­ac­ter with a time­less ver­sion of my­self?’ And then that opened up for me . . . hiphop, it opened up fash­ion.

“Be­cause the Ge­nie is time­less you get to re­ally say and do any­thing so I started to feel con­fi­dent I could de­liver some­thing that was a homage to Robin Wil­liams but was mu­si­cally dif­fer­ent. And just the flavour of the char­ac­ter would be dif­fer­ent and unique enough that it would be in a diff­er­ent lane ver­sus try­ing to com­pete.”


After the re­lease of the film’s first trailer the in­ter­net wasn’t kind about the blue Ge­nie ver­sion of Will.

He was com­pared to an Avatar re­ject, a Smurf and Sonic the Hedge­hog.

“It was very funny,” the ac­tor told Em­pire magazine. “Ev­ery­thing is un­der such crit­i­cal scru­tiny. I came up in an era where there was no in­ter­net. It’s a new thing that I’m try­ing to get a han­dle on.”

A few months later a new trailer was re­leased with greatly im­proved com­put­er­gen­er­ated im­agery Ge­nie footage, which seemed to pacify the film’s crit­ics.

“[There were] apolo­gies from the cyn­ics who were so adamant ini­tially,” direc­tor Guy told Em­pire.

“I’ve never seen apolo­gies in that world. I thought, ‘Oh well, great, we’re back to where I’d hoped we’d be’.”

Catch Will Smith in all his blue glory in Aladdin, now in cin­e­mas.

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