The Aladdin trailers have been dancing around it and only the CinemaCon crowd really got to hear it, but now Will Smith revealed how his take on “Friend Like Me” in the new Aladdin differs from Robin Williams.
The actor, who plays the live-action/CG genie in Disney’s latest live-action adaptation of its animated fairy tale library, rapped most of the first verse to his character’s big musical number for Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show on Monday.
“Robin Williams smashed that role, and when you look at things like that, you try to find what would you do differently? What would you add to that?” Smith prefaced. “So I looked at it and the first thing was I didn’t feel like I wanted to touch it. But then I spent some time with it and I talked to the directors… What did it for me was, when I was messing with the music, there’s a song ‘Friend Like Me.’ So, when I went in, I had them grab the ‘Impeach the President’ by The Honey Drippers and we used the drums off the [track].”
Questlove then started in on the drum rhythm from that song and Smith ran with his own hip-hop spin on the classic Disney number.
And if you want to know more about how Smith’s Genie differs from Williams’ genie, Disney released a new clip from Aladdin that shows a scene where the titular street rat gets a lesson in wishing.
The magic doesn’t stop there.
In a spin on Fallon’s go-kart and tricycle racing bits on The Tonight Show, he and Smith competed in a magic carpet race through the NBC studio. The pair zigged through Agrabah merchants, zagged past a belly dancer, and zoomed through the desert, all to capture three of their team’s flags before the other could do so.
Smith, an adept magic carpet rider, left Fallon in the dust.