Will Smith is in talks to take on the role of The Genie in Disney’s live-action version of ‘Aladdin’.
The ‘Suicide Squad’ actor was originally in negotiations to work on Tim Burton’s new adaptation of ‘Dumbo’, based on the classic 1941 animated family film about the titular big-eared baby elephant who learns to fly in the circus, but those talks fell through.
However, Disney has another plan for 48-year-old Smith and, according to Deadline, the studio is keen for him to take on the comedic character voiced superbly by the late Robin Williams in the beloved 1992 animation. ‘Aladdin’ is to be directed by Guy Ritchie with Sean Bailey – head of motion picture production at Disney – promising the project will be a “highly energized” musical.
‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ writer John August has penned the script, which is believed to be non-linear in its structure, something that is a hallmark of Ritchie’s early work such as cult British crime romp ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’. ‘Aladdin’ will start shooting this summer in the UK and it is rumored Disney is seeking unknown actors for the lead roles and there will be no whitewashing with producer Dan Lin saying the film will have a “diverse” cast.
Following the adventures of the street rat, the story is based on a Middle Eastern folk tale of Aladdin who is granted three wishes by a genie who is captive inside a magic lamp. The originally 1992 animation won two Oscars for the music including Best Music and Original Song for ‘A Whole New World’. ‘Aladdin’ is one of Disney’s most beloved and successful classics earning more than $504 million worldwide.
If Smith does join the cast of ‘Aladdin’ he will be the latest major Hollywood star to step into the world of Disney live action movies, which have proven to be hugely successful for the entertainment company. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as The Beast – has been a huge hit, banking an astonishing $1 billion at the box office worldwide, currently making it the 21st highest-grossing film of all-time. Angelina Jolie starred as the titular villain in the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ inspired ‘Maleficent’, Johnny Depp played The Mad Hatter in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and Lily James took the title role in ‘Cinderella’.
As well as ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Aladdin’, the studio is also remaking ‘Mulan’, ‘Peter Pan’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Pocahontas’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’.