Robin Williams is unforgettable in the role of Genie in the 1992 Disney film Aladdin, but it’s safe to say you ain’t never had a friend like Will Smith, either.
The blockbuster star has some formidable shoes to fill playing the role of Genie in Disney’s upcoming live-action version of the animated classic, but word from CinemaCon in Las Vegas is that Smith holds his own in the part. During a Disney panel, executive Cathleen Taff acknowledged the role’s history while praising Smith’s take.
“No one can replicate the iconic performance by Robin Williams, and we wouldn’t want them to,” Taff said. “Let’s just say, he’s a little Fresh Prince, a little Hitch, and a whole lot of attitude.”
CinemaCon attendees also got a first look at the live-action Agrabah in behind-the-scenes footage, including a glimpse of Smith in character, dressed in embellished blue robes with the Genie’s iconic gravity-defying ponytail on his head.
“Aladdin is one of those perfect stories,” Smith said in the video shown at the panel. “We get to sing and dance and there’s comedy and drama.”
Those in attendance also got a sneak peek of Mena Massoud as Aladdin, decked out in white as he dashes through the labyrinth of market streets in sequences that Smith said were “really exciting” and befitting of the cinematic style of director Guy Ritchie. The video also offered a brief look at Naomi Scott’s Princess Jasmine wearing her iconic turquoise costume and flowing pink robes as she sings and dances.
Smith previously shared a photo of himself and fellow Aladdin cast members Massoud (Aladdin), Scott (Princess Jasmine), and Marwan Kenzari (Jafar) last fall. Though he wasn’t in costume, he promised he was “getting [his] Genie on.”
When production on the film wrapped in January, Massoud commemorated the occasion on Instagram, writing, “It’s been an incredible journey and I can’t wait for you all to see it next year.”
Aladdin hits theaters May 24, 2019.