Disney is currently in the process of casting for their live-action remake of Aladdin and things are already pretty interesting. Earlier this week it was revealed that Suicide Squad star Will Smith is in negotiations to take on the role of the Genie in the upcoming remake, but it turns out he wasn't the first actor who Disney had their eye on. It has now been revealed that Kevin Hart was approached by the Mouse House for the part before Will Smith came into the picture.
The news comes from Variety reporter Justin Kroll on Twitter and, according to him, it looks like the Centrail Intelligence star and big-time comedian was the studio's first choice to play the Genie in this new version of Aladdin. He tagged fellow reporters Jeff Sneider and Simon Thompson in the tweet, who suggested Kevin Hart for the part of Iago, Jaffar's bird, in the movie. Here is what Justin Kroll had to say about it.
"Hey @ShowbizSimon and @TheInSneider funny you said Kevin Hart for Iago in Aladdin cause they actually went out to him for the Genie B4 Will"
There is no word on why Kevin Hart didn't end up with the role, but it seems like he is out of the running. He may have passed on it or the deal just may not have worked out once he was approached. So they have moved on to Will Smith, who hasn't yet signed on for the movie, but is being courted to play the role. Will Smith is no doubt a bigger star, all things considered, but his career was in a bit of a slump prior to Suicide Squad, and several of his other recent offerings, such as Collateral Beauty, underperformed at the box office. Kevin Hart, on the other hand, is a star on the rise and his recent movies have done very well. So both actors make sense for their own reasons.
No matter who winds up playing the Genie in the live-action Aladdin remake, they will have some seriously huge shoes to fill. The role was originally played by the late Robin Williams in the 1992 animated classic and remains one of his most beloved and recognizable performances in any movie animated or otherwise. So it is possible that Kevin Hart just didn't want to risk having to live up to the legacy of that character in this new movie. Like the other recent Disney live-action remakes of animated classics, Aladdin will have musical numbers in it. So, since Will Smith has an impressive acting resume and a very accomplished musical career as well, he might make more sense for the part.
Guy Ritchie (Snatch, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) has been tapped to direct the Aladdin remake, with a script from John August (Big Fish). This will be just one of many live-action adaptations that Disney has in the works, as their recent, similar offerings have all done very well at the box office. Most recently, Beauty and the Beast crossed the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office after less than a month in theaters. They also have adaptations of Dumbo, The Lion King, Mulan and The Little Mermaid, among others, in various stages of the development process. The studio has not yet set a release date for Aladdin, but it is expected to shoot in the U.K. this June.