LOS ANGELES • Will Smith was initially worried about playing the genie in Disney's live action version of Aladdin after the celebrated performance by the late Robin Williams more than 25 years ago, but says it eventually became a joy.
"What Robin Williams did with this character - he just didn't leave a lot of room to add to the genie. So I started off fearful, but then when I got with the music, it just started waking up that fun, child-like, silly part of me," Smith said.
"This was the most joyful experience of my career," the actor, 50, said ahead of the film's release worldwide this week.
Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie, marks Smith's first time doing a Walt Disney film. The remake features many of the elements of the 1992 animated original, for which Williams won a Golden Globe for his voice work.
"I like the original movie so I'm aware I don't want to contaminate the nostalgia of the first one," said Ritchie. "What you want to do is embellish."
"My principal job was to entertain my five kids and my Disneyphile of a wife," said Ritchie, who is better known for actionadventure movies like Sherlock Holmes (2009) and adult crime caper RocknRolla (2008).
Naomi Scott, who appeared in The 33 (2015) and Power Rangers (2017), plays Princess Jasmine. Mena Massoud, who appeared in last year's Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series, plays the title role in the movie.
Aladdin is the latest Disney remake of its animated family film classics. It follows a live action version of flying elephant tale Dumbo in March, the upcoming July reboot of The Lion King and Mulan due for release next year.