Alfonso Ribeiro Defends Will Smith in ‘Aladdin’: If You ‘Only Want to See Robin Williams’ as Genie, ‘Don’t Go See the Movie’

Supporting old pals. Alfonso Ribeiro defended his former The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air costar Will Smith over his performance as Genie in Disney’s live-action Aladdin adaptation.

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!”

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Alfonso Ribeiro attends the Critics’ Choice Real TV Awards on June 02, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. JC Olivera/WireImage

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.

Despite some criticism for Smith’s Genie, the newest Aladdin soared to $91.5 million in its premiere weekend. The Guy Ritchie-directed feature also earned an “A” grade from audiences on Cinemascore.

Ahead of Aladdin’s Memorial Day Weekend debut, Scott Weinger — who voiced the titular character in the cartoon — also defended Smith as Genie.

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Will Smith in Aladdin Courtesy of Disney

 “[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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