Disney invited fans into its cave of wonders with a first look at the Guy Ritchie-directed film in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, including a peek at Will Smith as the ever impressive, the long contained, often imitated, but never duplicated Genie.
On the cover of the issue, Smith is joined by “Power Rangers” star Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Canadian actor Mena Massoud as Aladdin.
In the accompanying interview, the stars and director explain how they reimagined the world of the beloved 1992 animated classic to make the story of a street urchin who discovers a magic lamp, unlocking the wonders of a whole new world, feel relevant to today’s audiences.
Smith said he tried to strike a fine balance between honoring the late Robin Williams, who originated the role in the animated film, and making the Genie his own, which he admits was “terrifying.”
“I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different,” the actor told the outlet.
“I think it’ll stand out as unique even in the Disney world,” he continued. “There hasn’t been a lot of that hip-hop flavor in Disney history.”
Just like the original, Smith’s genie will have a floating, blue counterpart, which Ritchie somewhat confusingly likens to “a muscular 1970s dad.” But the special effects for the remake aren’t quite completed.
The character of Jasmine has been retooled with a heaver feminist bent to maker her “a more rounded character and maybe not being such a stereotype of the time.”
In addition to an original solo song for the princess written by “Aladdin” composer Alan Menken, the live-action remake will introduce a new character, Dalia, to deepen her world and relationships beyond her trusty tiger Rajah.
Played by “Saturday Night Live” alum Nasim Pedrad, Dalia is Jasmine’s handmaiden and best friend. She supports Jasmine “but at the same time wants to make sure she doesn’t get in trouble,” Pedrad said.
“Jasmine is so resilient and independent in this version, she’s focused on things other than which boy she’s going to end up with,” Pedrad told the magazine.
The film also stars Marwan Kenzari as Jafar and Billy Magnussen as the new character Prince Anders of Skånland.
“Aladdin” hits theaters May 24, 2019.
After the article dropped, some people took to Twitter to joke ― or gripe ― that the remake didn’t look so shining, shimmering, splendid.