Just weeks after Disney has finally found their new Aladdin in Mena Moussad, with Will Smith also coming aboard to voice the Genie, the studio has now found its main villain. Marwan Kenzari, who can currently be seen in Universal's The Mummy, has signed on to play the nefarious Jafar. He joins a growing cast that also includes Naomi Scott as Jasmine, with Nasim Pedrad also coming aboard, to play a handmaid and friend to Jasmine.
Variety broke the news on this casting earlier today, although there are no specific details on the character, or how he may differ from the original animated movie, where Jonathan Freeman voiced Jafar. Director Guy Ritchie confirmed in May that this project will be an Aladdin musical, although no details on the songs have been released yet. There was also a report that Aladdin will start production in July in the U.K., running through January 2018, but another report claimed that filming has been pushed to August, although no specific date was given.
This news also comes a few months after a report surfaced that Disney and director Guy Ritchie wanted to cast Tom Hardy as the villain Jafar, but it was never confirmed if the actor was in consideration for the role or not. While Tom Hardy would have certainly brought more star power to the production, it would have likely also came with its fair share of controversy, in terms of "white washing," which has become a hot button topic these days with movies such as The Great Wall and Gods of Egypt. With the casting of Marwan Kenzari, a Dutch actor of Tunisian descent, along with the rest of the diverse cast, the studio likely won't have to deal with any sort of white washing controversy with this film.
Guy Ritchie is set to direct Aladdin from a screenplay by John August (Big Fish), with Dan Lin (Sherlock Holmes) producing and Jonathan Eirich executive producing. Disney has not yet set a release date for Aladdin, but if production is in fact supposed to begin sometime this summer, then perhaps the studio will announce a release date along with the start of production, whenever that may be. What's ironic about this influx of casting news is, just days before Mena Moussad, Naomi Scott and Will Smith were announced, a report surfaced that claimed the studio was having trouble finding an actor for the main Aladdin character.
The original Aladdin follows the title character, a street urchin who falls in love with the beautiful princess Jasmine, and uses the magical lamp he found, and the genie within, to turn him into a prince so she will marry him. The movie was a box office sensation upon its release in 1992, becoming the top-grossing movie that year with $217.3 million domestic and a whopping $504 million worldwide, from a $28 million production budget. When adjusted for inflation, that $217.3 million gross would equate to a $466.2 million take in today's market. Marwan Kenzari most recently played Malik in this summer's The Mummy, and he also recently appeared in The Promise, Ben-Hur and Collide. He will next be seen in Murder on the Orient Express, which hits theaters November 10.