People sometimes forget that Will Smith’s roots are in hip-hop. But those roots are exactly what helped the “Gemini Man” actor get into character for his role as Genie in “Aladdin.”
“The music was really how I saw my in to be able to play the Genie,” he said at the movie’s L.A. premiere in Hollywood. “That first day messing around with ‘Friend Like Me,’ I noticed that it was in the BPM range of old school hip-hop, so when I started playing with it, it was like ‘Aw man, this really lends itself to a tempo and a flavor that I really understand.’ So that showed me how I could pay an homage to Robin and not change the songs so much that people would have the nostalgic value but also be able to come up with my own flavor.”
Smith also weighed on the difficulties of balancing his role as an homage to Williams while still providing a new take.
“The biggest challenge was being able to find a way to not make it jarring and disturbing by how different it would be,” he said. “To make people feel at home while they were getting something new and special.”
Watch the interview above.