Will Smith only had one weekend to decide whether or not he should take on the part of Genie in Disney's live action remake of their 1992 classic Aladdin, a beloved character previously brought to the screen by Robin Williams.
Speaking with the Good Morning America team Monday, Smith—who recently made one hell of a Coachella appearance with Jaden—looked back on what ultimately inspired him to accept the part.
"This one came out of nowhere," Smith said. "I was actually considering three or four other movies and this came on a Friday night and I had to make a decision on the Monday. That was a really tough weekend because Robin Williams, like, smashed this thing so hard and when you take a role like this, you want to find out whether there's some meat left on the bone. Like, what would you do differently, you know? And I watched the original and Robin just destroyed that thing."
Asked if agreeing to the Genie role was intimidating, Smith confirmed as much, adding that he was inspired by Williams' unique approach to the character in the animated original.
"It was so intimidating," he said. "The one thing that I latched onto was the idea that it was going to be live-action. I knew that left a little bit of room. And then what I saw that he did was he revolutionized what you could do in these types of films. He really changed using modern references and things like that. So, for me, the hip-hop angle was the angle that I saw that would be my in." That approach, he explained, allowed him to bring a "new flavor" to the character while also honoring "the nostalgia" and paying homage to Williams.
Later, Smith spoke on Aladdin in the context of his own filmography, confirming that he can "in good conscience" recommend viewing this one. "Y'all know I've made some good movies and I've made some questionable ones," he said. "I've made some questionable ones in the past. I'm man enough to stand up to that. But this one, this is such a beautiful, beautiful movie."
Aladdin also stars Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott. The Guy Ritchie-directed presumed hit opens May 24.