Will Smith Laughs Off Initial Backlash to His Genie in 'Aladdin': 'Everything Is Under Such Scrutiny'
By Alex Ungerman
L: Disney; R: Jim Spellman/WireImage
Will Smith saw your Genie memes -- and he likes them!
The 50-year-old actor, who is playing Genie in Disney's upcoming live-action Aladdin remake, opens up in a new interview with Empire about the backlash and memes that spawned following the first look at his character late last year.
"It was very funny," Smith tells the publication. "There was a Sonic The Hedgehog / Genie frog. Everything is under such critical scrutiny. I came up in an era where there was no internet. It’s a new thing that I’m trying to get a handle on."
However, as more shots of Genie have been revealed, the film's director, Guy Ritchie, tells Empire that initial skeptics had reached out to him to apologize.
“It even came with apologies from the cynics who were so adamant initially,” Ritchie says. “I’ve never seen apologies in that world. I thought, ‘Oh well, great, we’re back to where I’d hoped we’d be.'"
Meanwhile, for his role, Smith has a big lamp to fill, seeing how the late Robin Williams so memorably portrayed Genie in the 1992 classic Disney animated film. Talking to ET in December, Smith assured us that he understands that responsibility.
"I was terrified doing the Genie after Robin Williams," Smith admitted at the time. "But I found a lane that pays homage. It is my own thing, you know? So, I think people are going to love it."
The live-action Aladdin film premieres on May 24. Watch the video below for more on the Genie drama.