All the trades are reporting that former box office golden boy, Will Smith, is circling the part of Genie for the upcoming live action version of Aladdin to be directed by Guy Ritchie. It’s not a done deal yet, but it’s looking pretty done from here.
Following a string of adult dramas and action movies like “Collateral Beauty” and “Suicide Squad,” Smith has been eyeing a family-friendly film as his next project. He was circling the lead role in “Dumbo,” but walked away from a deal due to scheduling conflicts.
Disney and Smith were still interested in working together though, so the studio shortlisted him when this opportunity arose. — Variety
Will Smith is a national treasure due to that run he had in during the mid 90’s and mid 2000’s, but it would appear he’s failed to find his box office stride since about 2008. Suicide Squad definitely helped, but let’s face it… Margot Robbie was the scene stealer in that film. So that begs the question, is Smith the best man to play this part? Even more so, is he the best man to fill the infamous Robin Williams‘ shoes?! An obvious choice, yes. However, I’m not completely convinced that he’s the best choice. Apparently, the studio is willing to fill the roles of Princess Jasmine and the title character, Aladdin, with undiscovered actors so why not allow Genie to be played by a less familiar actor as well.
Cue, James Monroe Iglehart. Iglehart played Genie on broadway, and the man is absolutely amazing. I’ve seen it with my own eyeballs. Look. At. Him.
If the photo and my testimony aren’t enough. Alright, fine. Feast your eyeballs on this clip:
Iglehart has since moved on to a little musical, Hamilton, but I believe his agents would make room in his schedule for him to reprise the role in a theatrical live action release. Iglehart is not a household name, which provides that unknown factor the studio is looking for with the other two main roles; however, if they insist on casting a known actor there’s a few more names that should definitely be considered.
No explanation needed here, Will Ferrell can do this part in his sleep.
Eddie Murphy, Murphy has already proven himself to be a show man in his OSCAR nominated role in Dreamgirls. I know what you’re thinking, Norbit and Meet Dave, were the worst movies ever. But let’s not hold those two horrible films against him, but instead use them as a argument that Murphy will do everything he sees necessary to dive into a role… fat suits and all. That’s character work people.
The studio could go younger with Comedy Central prince, Adam Devine. His youth will work to the studios advantage. Especially, if the studio decides to do a sequel or prequel about how Genie got trapped into the lamp… that is if they aren’t scared about live action prequels or sequels altogether ::cough:: Alice Through the Looking Glass. Devine even kinda feels a little Williams-esque with his physicality and wide range of facial expression that would be necessary for anyone attempting to fill Williams’ shoes, despite Williams’ part solely being performed via voice over in the previous animated version.
Not convinced? How about a wild pitch with Tracy Morgan. Yes, he’s not known for family style content, but every actor takes a dip into the kiddie pool at some point. I dare you to picture him performing the number, Friend Like Me, without out giggling. You can’t. Boom! At least let this man screen test.
Didn’t mean to go all [Fantasy] Casting, but we all know that if Smith gets cast into the part, no one is going to see this film just because he’s in it. The studio shouldn’t fall into that A-list trap and end up with another Johnny Depp flop-ocalypse on their hands under the disillusion an A-list name will put butts in the seats. If Smith gets it, okay great, best of luck to him! I actually love Smith with all my 90’s kid heart, but Aladdin is a Disney classic and they can’t afford to ruin it’s legacy with a bad Genie casting because the studio didn’t properly vet.
If you new a refresher, below is a list of the previously done live action Disney flicks:
Beauty and The Beast (2017)
If you’re curious, below is a list of what’s to come.