So Disney wants Will Smith, but does Will Smith want Disney? Just a few months after the mega-star — he’s still considered a mega-star, right? — dropped out of Tim Burton‘s “Dumbo” adaptation, the studio is back in talks with Smith for another role. According to a new report at Deadline, Disney has approached Smith about playing the Genie in Guy Ritchie‘s live-action adaptation of “Aladdin,” the role made famous by the late Robin Williams. If you’re going to try to replace the irreplaceable, why not go with one of the most recognizable and highly paid actors in the world? Nobody can accuse you of going small that way.
While Smith lacks Williams’ skills as a mimic — don’t expect this version of the Genie to flutter through a half-dozen impressions in less than a minute — he may actually be an inspired choice for the character. Smith, of course, has charisma for days, but he also brings with him his skills as a studio musician and an entire career of Hollywood hits to riff on. Would you like to see this version of the Genie break into an impromptu rendition of “Parents Just Don’t Understand”? Or poke not-so-subtle fun at the actor’s long list of blockbuster hits? Heck, a Will Smith Genie could only add further fire to that popular fan theory that “Aladdin” actually takes place in a post-apocalyptic universe, a reading of the film so ridiculous — and yet so authentically part of our weird internet culture — that I would give my left small toe to see them joke about it in the movie.