Will Smith poses on arrival for the European Gala of Aladdin in central London. TNS
Hollywood star Will Smith was reluctant at first to play Genie in the live-action remake of Disney's "Aladdin" as it meant following in the big footsteps of late comedian Robin Williams who voiced the character in the 1992 animated film.
Smith, who shot to fame in the 1990s television series "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," added a personal touch - and some hip hop and rap - to portray the energetic CGI-enhanced blue Genie who emerges from a lamp in a cave of treasures.
Speaking to Reuters at the musical film's premiere in London on Thursday, the 50-year-old actor and rapper said his first reaction about taking on the role was: "Hell no, no way."
"Robin Williams didn't leave much room to improve on the Genie. ... So I looked at it and the first thing for me was that it was going to be live action. I thought it could be a little different," Smith said.
The film follows the 1992 movie plot that saw poor street hustler Aladdin fall in love with headstrong Princess Jasmine, but director Guy Ritchie said the story "needed updating."
"We are half an hour longer and there's just a difference between an animated film and live action," he said.
"Somehow you can take broader strokes in the animated movies that you can't afford in live action. Jasmine was the principal character that needed evolving and developing."
That character is played by "The 33" and "Power Rangers" actress Naomi Scott, who will also star in the upcoming "Charlie's Angels" remake.
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