Aladdin director Guy Ritchie responds to whether Aladdin 2 will recast Will Smith's Genie, in light of Smith's Oscar slap controversy and backlash.
Following his controversy at this year's Oscars, Guy Ritchie has addressed whether Will Smith's Genie will be recast in Aladdin 2. The 2019 live-action adaptation helmed by the Sherlock Holmes director grossed over $1 billion worldwide and marked a comeback for Smith, after years of critical and box office bombs. Aladdin 2 was officially greenlit by Disney back in 2020, and was recently confirmed by stars Mena Massoud and Billy Magnussen to be in the works, though seemingly only in early development stages.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Guy Ritchie was asked whether Will Smith's Genie would be recast in Aladdin 2. Ritchie confirmed that he fully intends to have Smith stay in the role, with The Gentlemen film and series director stating that his personal experience was nothing but wonderful, calling the actor “lovely” and a “perfect gentleman.” See more of what Ritchie shared below:
I’ve never met a more lovely man, and working with him was one of the most wonderful, great experiences I’ve ever had. I never saw anything other than the consummate, generous gentleman. I wouldn’t have any issue casting Will Smith in anything, because, as I say, he was just the f——ng perfect gentleman.
Smith has been in hot water since March, when he infamously slapped and berated Chris Rock before the comedian presented an award at the Oscars following a joke made at his wife's expense. The controversy led to his resignation from the Academy and a 10-year ceremony ban, while also disrupting many fan and audience's perceptions of Smith from the universally loved, clean-cut celebrity. During promotions for his latest film Emancipation, the actor admitted his concerns that the fallout would result in negative reception.
Though Smith’s reputation is generally agreed to be tarnished following his controversial Oscars moment, it’s unclear exactly how much his career will be impacted. As of now, the star is still producing hit shows Cobra Kai and Bel Air, and has a number of acting projects like Bad Boys 4 in pre-production. If Ritchie’s take — which some will undoubtedly find controversial and perhaps tone-deaf — is anything to go by, it appears that not much has changed.
Recasting Aladdin’s Genie wouldn’t be unprecedented. After being made iconic by the late Robin Williams, the character was recast for The Return of Jafar following conflicts with the comedian over using his portrayal in commercials and to sell toys. Williams would return for Aladdin and the King of Thieves after being issued an apology by Disney, but would once again be recast with Smith for the live-action adaptation.