Disney is moving forward with plans for a live-action remake of Aladdin, and they are currently targeting Will Smith to play Genie. The big, blue wish fulfiller was voiced by the late Robin Williams in Disney's original animated film, and the character is certainly one of Williams' best-remembered roles. Ever since the passing of Williams and the news breaking that Disney plans on remaking Aladdin, there has been a fair amount of speculation concerning who will replace Williams as Genie.
However, with Guy Ritchie aboard to direct the live-action Aladdin and a world-wide casting search underway to find the latest hero of Agrabah, the pre-production process has continued unabated. With Genie's role being vital to the film, it now appears that Disney has found a favorite for the role.
Deadline is reporting that Will Smith is in early talks to provide the voice of Genie in the live-action remake. Smith previously flirted with joining Tim Burton's live-action Dumbo, before ultimately passing, so this could be another case of him being considered, but talks not resulting in a deal. However, it is clear Disney is eager to work with Smith on one of these live-action Mouse House retelling, and a voice role would be easier for Smith to handle, from a scheduling standpoint. Now, we will have to wait and see if a deal is actually finalized.
While no one will be able to replace Williams as Genie, Smith has the charisma required to make the role his own. Whether it was his start in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or his roles in Men in Black and Bad Boys, Smith has time and time again proven his charm and larger than life personality. He has not done many voice roles in the past, save for Shark Tale - and while that is far from a classic animated film, Smith's role as the sidekick is one of its more memorable elements.
It is always possible that Smith could elect once again to pass on joining the Disney live-action game and even if that does happen, the fact that Disney is beginning this search should indicate that more casting announcements could be on the horizon. Ritchie's Aladdin is set to begin filming this July, so there is not much time left before an official cast is announced - with or without Smith. However, with the movie being described as a 'highly energized' musical, Smith's ability not only as an actor, but also as a rapper/singer could further make him a great choice as Genie.
We'll bring you more information on Aladdin as it becomes available.