In 1992, Aladdin captivated millions with its catchy songs and magical atmosphere. Aladdin and Jasmine showed us a whole new world filled with lamps and magic carpet rides. But there was one particular character who has stayed with us more than any throughout the years: the Genie. After rubbing the magical lamp, Aladdin accidentally releases the Genie who will grant him three wishes. Before the end, Genie charmed us with his songs and, overall, loving personality. He felt like a friend to all of us and invoked all sorts of emotions.
Robin Williams made that role what it was, and no one could imagine someone else filling those shoes. However, it was reported a few weeks ago that Guy Ritchie would be directing a live-action Aladdin film, days after a live-action Mulan movie was announced. Now, we have to have that hard conversation. Obviously, Disney should be looking for Middle Eastern or Indian actors to fill in the human roles, but what about the Genie? Who would be the perfect person to voice (or physically act) as this iconic character? It really depends on which road Disney wants to go down. As much as we would love to have Disney reuse Williams’ voice in the new film, let’s give someone else a chance to take the reigns.
You know him best as the pompous Tony Stark, but Robert Downey Jr. is more than just a rich boy in armor. He has evolved into one of the most respected actors in Hollywood, having decades worth of experience under his belt. His resume is very diverse, including two Oscar nominations. He’s transformed into Charlie Chaplin, and his role as Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder shows how much far he will go to fit the role. He only has one minor voice credit, so this would be the perfect opportunity to expand his horizon. We already know that Downey Jr. has experience in dealing with obnoxious youngins’ from The Avengers, so there’s no need to doubt about him having chemistry with his younger co-star. He’s already a big part of the Disney family so he could be the big name that Aladdin needs (though it doesn’t really need one in the first place).
Mark Hamill may be known for his lightsabers and daddy issues, but he also have a very impressive voice acting resume. Aside from Heath Ledger, he is considered one of the best versions of The Joker—using only his snake-like voice as leverage. But Hamill can be more than conniving. In his biggest role, he played Luke Skywalker, one of the greatest heroes in cinema. And by the look of the new Star Wars films, it seems like he will be growing into one of those old wise men types. That could translate over to the Genie, where he has to be somewhat of a moral conscience for Aladdin. And of course, he can sneak in his Joker voice in one of his many alter egos. Imagine if we had a darker Genie who wasn’t as friendly and focused more on being a trickster. Hamill may seem like an unconventional pic, especially since he’s voiced mainly villains, but it’s a Guy Ritchie movie; a casting this strange could totally happen.
Hannibal Buress might be one of the more unconventional picks. He’s never really been child friendly, nor has he had the chance to star in a big budget movie. He’s written for both SNL and 30 Rock, which helped him launch his stand up comedy career. He’s constantly on the road, performing at different venues and festivals. He’s also one of the people responsible for drawing attention to Bill Cosby’s rape allegations through his stand-up bit.
Right now, he has a pretty sweet gig as Lincoln Rice on Broad City. His chemistry with Ilana Glazer is perfect and can hit a little too close to home for some people. Some might argue that his humor wouldn’t fit in a Disney movie, but, as we’ve seen with Girls’ Adam Driver, he could easily transition to the role. While he might have big shoes to fill, Buress’s jabs at the absurdity of society could work for a creature who has been dealing with people for thousands of years.
Unsurprisingly, no one has thought about making the Genie female. Any woman could easily make the character unique and fun. If Disney was thinking of gender-flipping the role, they might want to look at Amy Sedaris. She has a lovably quirky attitude who has appeared in both movies and television shows. Known for her screechy voice and neuroticism, Sedaris also has many voice acting credits to her name—most notably for Princess Caroline in Bojack Horseman. In Bojack, she plays a workaholic who compulsively seeks relationships and intimacy. She also channels that compulsiveness in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where she plays Mimi Kanasis, Jacqueline's temperamental best friend.
With Sedaris’ experience in making her supporting characters uncomfortable, it’s a guarantee that she would give Aladdin a run for his money. From what we’ve seen on Bojack Horseman, we know that she also gives great motivation speeches to get people’s shit together. Plus, it would be refreshing to see a powerful female character teach a male character without a chance of romance happening.
Thanks to his show, The Last Man on Earth, Will Forte is quickly appearing on people’s radars. Before he became a cast member on SNL, he had been a writer for multiple tv sitcoms, such as Third Rock From the Sun and That 70’s Show. Once he got his start on SNL, he became the face of MacGruber, a sketch parody based off of the adventure series, Macgyver. The character became so popular that Forte was able to write and star in a film adaptation (which is getting a sequel).
Forte’s comedy lies mainly in the absurdist genre. He’s able to take a concept so bleak as a post apocalyptic world and still find a way to insert masturbation jokes. However, he combines that light-heartedness with the perpetual loneliness of his character, Phil Miller. Forte’s dedication to character development is a prime factor in why he would do well in Aladdin. He would make Genie a three dimensional character, rather than just the comedic sidekick. We might see how being stuck in a lamp for 10,000 years can affect a person.
I’m sure many eyes just rolled at this entry, but let’s face it: Kevin Hart is probably one of the more realistic choices. He has been on fire in the film industry as of late, starring in at least two films a year. Say what you want about him, but he has a voice fit for animation. His first voice acting credit was the fierce rabbit, Snowball, in The Secret Life of Pets. Next year, he will voice George Beard in the upcoming Captain Underpants film.
His comedy usually revolves yelling at an abnormally loud volume and making jokes about his height. If Ritchie wants to go for more of the slapstick routine, then Hart would deliver on that end. Surely, there are some jokes that Hart can make about either his or Aladdin’s height. Hart may seem like a one trick pony, but it’s a trick that works with audiences.
He already won over our hearts as the fluffy blue monster in Monsters Inc., so there’s no reason why John Goodman couldn’t play Genie. On his own, Goodman is a phenomenal actor partaking in comedy, drama, and even thrillers. As the lovable Sully, he was able to protect a human toddler as if she was his own child. And if that wasn’t enough convincing, he also dealt with an obnoxious king in The Emperor’s New Groove.
Since we already know that Goodman can show compassion, there’s no reason why he couldn’t take on the genie. It’s not clear on whether he can sing or not, but his comedic landing would be a fine substitute. From his role as Walter from The Big Lebowski, it’s clear that he can also throw snarky quips left and right. Goodman could play around with Aladdin, but also keep him in check when need be.
Considered one of the kings of classic comedy, Bill Murray has done it all. Starting off as a SNL cast member, he gradually went off to star in multiple box office hits such as: Caddyshack, Stripes, and Ghostbusters. Murray’s ability to tackle both slapstick and dry humor lets him tackle many different kinds of projects. Over a decade later, he became acquainted with the king of quirkiness—Wes Anderson. He quickly became the Anderson favorite and gained critical acclaim in Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.
But Murray isn’t one of the world’s most beloved stars for just his acting career. The stories about him are just as entertaining; From crashing someone’s karaoke party to paying a kid five bucks to ride his bike into the pool, describing him as unpredictable would be an understatement. Even trying to get him to star in a film is a task all on its own (you have to get one of his friends to persuade him or call his secret 1-800 number). That sort of spontaneity completely embodies who the Genie is. It also helps that he has also voiced another carefree Disney character this year—Baloo in The Jungle Book . Seeing how much he fit into that movie, Disney should get their bribes and pitches ready to persuade him to join Aladdin.
Terry Crews is one of the few lucky athletes who was able to break into acting. From sitcoms to Old Spice commercials, he never fails to bring the comedy. Despite having a very fit physique he’s never been type casted as the typical action hero. In fact, his comedy relies on making fun of his ultra-masculinity and far as mocking intense body builder stereotypes. Not only is Genie a pretty big guy, but he also finds a way to make fun of himself (and other people). Because of that, we would really need the whole package if he were to take on his character. That means it should just be Crews in blue paint and pants instead of CGI.
Crews has been in bigger movies such as The Expendables and Idiocracy, but nothing that has made him that memorable. Now that he’s gaining more recognition as Detective Terry Jeffords on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, it’s time for him to prove that he can be in a bigger role.
Whether you know him as Joe Swanson or David Puddy, Patrick Warburton has a pretty distinctive sound. He often relies on his deep, booming voice and large physique in his roles. His deadpan dialogue brings a perfect amount of dry humor to his characters. He’s been quite prominent in the comedy genre, starring in hit shows such as Seinfeld and The Tick. Next year, he will be co-starring in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, playing the grim author himself. It’s a role that we never thought he could pull off until we saw it for ourselves in the teaser.
Warburton has already been a big part of the Disney family. He played the lovable Kronk, Yzma’s goofy sidekick, who couldn’t be a villain if he tried. Warburton was one of the only cast members who stayed on for additional sequels and television shows. With how big Genie is, it’s very easy to imagine him having a deep voice like Warburton. But, like Kronk, he would also have an adorable personality that you couldn’t help but love.
Bill Hader is a man of many talents; He’s one of the best character actors working because of his ability to sink into his roles. Young, gay, creepy, or sincere, Hader can do it all. He can switch from the creep uncle to Amy Schumer’s love interest in a snap of a finger. During his eight year SNL run, he gave us uncanny impressions and some of the most memorable characters such as Stefon—one of Weekend Update’s frequent collaborators. He’s also put on these impressions in dramatic films such as 2013’s The Skeleton Twins.
Hader has many different faces to choose from when playing Genie; He can go with the comically disturbed persona or go for pure slapstick. Heck, he could even do both of them. Genie is known for creating multiple disguises, so the possibilities are literally endless. Hader’s creativity is infinite, so he could make his own version of the character. It may not live up to Williams’ rendition, but it could be very memorable.
Dwayne Johnson is everybody’s best friend. He’s inspirational, funny and also very down to earth. On top of having a golden personality, he’s also one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors. While his films may not have been box office hits, Johnson has a certain radiance in every role he plays. He always seems to care about the film that he’s in and has yet to really phone in a job. In the upcoming Disney film, Moana, he will already be playing a demi-god, named Maui, who will help the title character on her journey. The Genie is basically the same character, who steers Aladdin towards maturity.
While his voice may be recognizable, Johnson has never been stuck to a certain character. He may not create a totally different Genie, but he’ll still be able to put some of his own tenderness into the role. Dwayne Johnson is the ultimate "bro" and would want to make sure that you're having the time of your life. But he would also shut your bad attitude down if need be. If he got the role, expect to see plenty for workout videos in preparation.
Who’s better to take on the iconic role than the man who played him on stage? James Monroe Iglehart took the world by storm when he stepped onto the Broadway stage in the blue suit. Two years into the musical’s run, he’s still leading sold out shows.
A former stand up comic, Iglehart has been around the film business since he was a child. He has directed a number of plays and even starred in a run of The Wiz. It wasn’t until 2014 that he got the attention of Broadway fans. Even though his run began shortly before Williams’ death, he quickly became the gem of the musical. The critical acclaim earned him the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. We can debate all day on who would be the perfect person to play Genie, but Iglehart may actually be one of the the best choices. His flamboyant portrayal would make for brilliant musical numbers.
Jim Carrey has been taking it easy lately, only working on independent pictures since Dumber and Dumber 2’s box office bomb in 2014. But we still remember his wildly comedic characters such as Stanley Ipkiss and Ace Ventura. He can do straight up slapstick humor or create more complex roles. One of his more underrated performances was The Riddler in Batman Forever. Even though it got mixed reviews, Carrey’s portrayal of Edward Nygma was considered the highlight of Batman Forever. He may have had a bit of an obsession with Bruce Wayne, but Carrey also showed how lonely he was. Carrey’s nuanced performance made The Riddler more memorable than even Val Kilmer’s Batman.
Currently, he doesn’t have much going on except for the recent crime drama, True Crimes. Even though it seems like he is steering towards dramatic roles, the Genie will give him a chance to go back to his roots.
While Carrey seems like the ideal choice, fans are wondering if his energetic personality is too similar to Williams. Sure, their voices sound similar but Carrey can easily make himself stand out. Depending on how he wants to take the character, Carrey could bring a lot of depth to Genie and tie in different emotions. However, if studios wanted to strictly go down the nostalgia route, his voice would be the closest version.
Lin Manuel Miranda is not throwing away his shot when it comes to being apart of the Disney family. Months after his broadway play, Hamilton, got universal acclaim, he’s become one of the most demanded artists on the market. He’s co-starring in the Mary Poppins sequel, Mary Poppins Returns and helped write the music for their upcoming film, Moana. He’s even in talks to help Alan Menken compose the music for Disney’s future The Little Mermaid adaptation.
Even though his schedule is probably booked for the next ten years, Miranda has everything required to be the genie: he can certainly sing and act, Hamilton proves that; but he’s also one of the most nurturing people in Hollywood. If you just look at his social media platforms, you’ll see how optimistic he is and frequently sends encouraging vibes to his followers. Honestly, Disney could have him play Abu, and people would still leave that movie satisfied. As shown on stage, Miranda is a man of many talents, and it’s time we get to see what he can do in front of a camera.