In the same way that Robin Williams' Genie was a big part of what made Disney's original Aladdin an animated classic of the 1990s, Will Smith's Genie is already the most talked-about aspect of Disney's upcoming live-action Aladdin remake.
While Williams' energetic, impression-loving Genie received unanimous praise, Smith's take on Aladdin's wish-granting friend has received a far more mixed reception.
In a new interview with Empire Magazine, director Guy Ritchie has opened up about what inspired his take on the classic character. As Syfy Wire noted, he said that his Genie was meant to be like a "'70s bodybuilding dad [who] lifts a lot of weights and simultaneously eats quite a lot of food."
Ritchie added that he wanted Smith's Genie to be both incredibly wise and "really vain."
Smith echoed Ritchie's take on the Genie, saying that his performance was informed by the Genie's human side.
"He understands love, he understands yearning, he understands the deep human existential questions," Smith said. "And he understands them because there are many aspects of them he has experienced. I feel like he is able to help Aladdin because his heart yearns in that same fashion."
While Smith's Genie will reportedly be in his very blue, CGI-enhanced form for much of the film, Smith will also get the chance to show off the Genie's more human side at some point in the film in his considerably less conspicuous humanoid form.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin stars Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Will Smith as Genie, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, Navid Negahban as the Sultan of Agrabah, Billy Magnussen as new character Prince Anders, and Frank Welker and Alan Tudyk as the voices of Abu and Iago, respectively. The film opens in theaters on May 24.