Smith, 50, had big shoes to fill upon signing on to play the blue character after late actor Robin Williams notably portrayed the iconic part in the 1992 animated version. However, the 47-year-old America’s Funniest Home Videos host said that the Oscar nominee’s portrayal of Genie was just as good as his predecessor’s.
“I went to the premiere! I thought he did a great job,” Ribeiro told Us Weekly exclusively during the Critics’ Choice Real TV Awards at The Beverly Hilton hotel on Sunday, June 2. “He was fun. He was him. He was his version of that character and I like the fact that he wasn’t trying to do Robin Williams. He wasn’t trying to do anybody else. He did Will and Will’s got some big feet!”
Ribeiro, a father of four, also argued that opposers of Smith’s Genie are “wrong” as he said his former costar is a “funny” guy. “I think that you have to recognize that there are more ways to play a role. I would say this: If you’re so locked in and only want to see Robin Williams, don’t go see the movie,” the Dancing With the Stars alum added.
Ahead of Aladdin’s Memorial Day Weekend debut, Scott Weinger — who voiced the titular character in the cartoon — also defended Smith as Genie.
“[Will’s] gonna crush it. He’s gonna be amazing,” the Full House star, 43, told Us exclusively during the Aladdin premiere at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre on May 21. “I’m sure he made it his own. I read an interview with him where he said it was intimidating to step into those shoes but he’s so ridiculously talented and amazing and charismatic, I’m sure he made it his own.”
Disney’s Aladdin is now playing in theaters nationwide.
With reporting by Lindsay Hoffman
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