8:49am PT by Katherine Schaffstall
How Will Smith Made the 'Aladdin' Genie His Own
Will Smith revealed how he was able to make the character of the Genie in the live-action adaption of Aladdin his own when he visited Good Morning America on Monday.
Smith said the opportunity to play the character "came out of nowhere" and that he was initially reluctant to take the role. "Robin Williams smashed this thing so hard," he said about the 1992 animated film. "When you take a role like this, you want to find where there's some meat left on the bone. What would you do differently?"
"The one thing that I latched onto was the idea that it was going to be live-action. The fact that it was live-action, I knew that left a little bit of room," he said.
Smith added that he admired director Guy Ritchie's idea to "revolutionize" the remake, which included the use of modern references.
And the actor credited the music in the film as his determining factor to join the project. "For me, the hip-hop angle was the angle that I saw that would be my in," he said.
"Listening to the music and 'What would I do with the music?' Really at the end of the day, it was the music that I saw where I could add my flavor, where I could honor the nostalgia and I could pay homage to Robin, but then also be able to add my new flavor," Smith said.
Smith later revealed that Aladdin is his favorite project that he has worked on. "I've made some good movies and I've made some questionable ones. I've made some questionable ones in the past," he said. "This is such a beautiful, beautiful movie, and Guy Ritchie did such a good job — added such an edge to it. I can, in good conscience, encourage you to go see this one."
While the Genie grants Aladdin three wishes in the film, the actor shared that he only had one wish. "One of the first things that I would wish for is divine understanding," he said. "I would just want to understand. I would just want to know, because when you know it's so much easier to share with the world. If you don't know, you can't teach."
"Working on this film, what was so beautiful is that the ideas behind the film are ideas that I want to share with the world," he said. "Ideas around being yourself and being confident and being strong enough and honoring what you are versus feeling like you have to change yourself for other people's wishes."
Watch Smith's full appearance below.