Will Smith was “terrified” to play the Genie in Aladdin because he didn’t think he could improve on Robin Williams’ original performance.
The actor, who stars alongside Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud in Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the 1992 animated classic, confessed during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show on Friday (May 10, 2019) that he was initially cautious about taking on the role.
“It was actually terrifying for me getting the first call,” the star recalled. “It was a deep honor being asked, but Robin Williams didn’t leave much room for improvement – he revolutionized what you can do in animation.”
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star went on to share that he watched the movie several times before making the decision, and admitted that it took him a while before he felt able to put his own stamp on the iconic character.
“I watched the movie a couple of times and it was only when I started playing with the music and rapping that it gave me an ‘in’ to maintaining the nostalgia and paying homage to Robin Williams’ genie, while adding a new flavor,” Will reflected.
The rapper, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday, also revealed on the show that he found the milestone to be liberating, and has taken the opportunity to let go of his anxieties and embrace every opportunity.
“A huge part of my childhood was marked by fear and a huge part of my drive in life was marked by fear,” the Men in Black star mused. “I’d turned 50 and I’d created this wonderful life and this wonderful career, but I felt trapped by being Will Smith.”
“I’m now being adventurous, and I’ve always wanted to be that,” he enthused.
Aladdin will debut in cinemas later this month (May 2019).