Will Smith reveals stress of following Robin Williams as Aladdin’s Genie

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent
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Will Smith reveals stress of following Robin Williams as Aladdin’s Genie

The Men in Black star, who takes on the role in the live action version of the film, spoke at its premiere in London.

Will Smith has admitted it was “deeply stressful and troubling” to think about stepping into Robin Williams’ shoes to play the Genie in the new live action version of Aladdin.

The Men In Black star appears bright blue and sporting a top knot and long beard in British film-maker Guy Ritchie’s new imagining of the 1992 animated classic.

Williams, who took his own life in 2014, was widely acclaimed for lending his voice to the magical genie in the original film and Smith said he had concerns about following in his footsteps.

Arriving at the film’s premiere in London, he told the Press Association: “It was deeply stressful and troubling first thinking about that.

“What Robin Williams did with the Genie was revolutionary in animation, actors didn’t even know you could do that, he introduced an idea and a way to come at these movies.

Director Guy Ritchie and wife Jacqui Ritchie arrive at the Aladdin premiere in London (Ian West/PA)

“So I watched that (the 1992 animation) about four or five times and it was the music that really gave me the in, because of my old school hip hop music background I felt that I could create a new signature for the Genie.

“What Robin Williams did is essentially infuse the character with his stand-up persona and when I thought about doing the Genie in that way that got my mind into ‘oh I can just infuse the persona that people have known for the past 20 years into a heightened character and capture a nostalgia, while at the same time creating something new’.”

Will Smith arrives at the London premiere (Ian West/PA)

Smith stars in the film opposite newcomer Mena Massoud in the title role and British actress Naomi Scott as Jasmine.

He said he was bowled over by the scale of the production.

Smith said: “There is a sequence in this movie, the Prince Ali sequence (when Aladdin masquerades as a royal), where there is 1,000 extras and dancers and horses and it’s one of the biggest dance sequences you will ever see in movie and it’s the sequence I’m most proud of in the movie.”

Aladdin is released in UK cinemas on May 22.