The director of Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Aladdin” has a guy in mind to play Jafar. Guy Ritchie’s top pick to play the story’s villain is Tom Hardy (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), but the potential casting of the actor could become a whitewashing controversy.
A source revealed that Ritchie has always been a big fan of Hardy’s work and having him play the role of Jafar “would be a major coup.” The same source also said there have been talks about casting Hardy for “Aladdin” but nothing is certain as this point, especially with the actor’s schedule.
Ritchie and Hardy share a history together as the two worked in the 2008 film “RocknRolla,” which Ritchie directed. Hardy had a small but impressive role in the said movie.
Hardy’s casting as Jafar in “Aladdin,” however, is already stirring controversy even as the news hasn’t been confirmed by the studio. There are concerns about whitewashing, or the Hollywood practice of casting Caucasian actors for the role of nonwhite characters. As viewers of the classic 1992 animated Disney film know, Jafar has Middle Eastern roots, thus it would make sense for someone with the same background to play the role.
The news comes as Will Smith (“Men in Black”) has also been rumored for the role of the Genie in “Aladdin,” according to a Deadline exclusive. It’s a role that has given the late Robin Williams much honor as he voiced the character in the animated film.
Ritchie did not confirm whether Smith would be in the movie when he spoke to E! News in May. The director, however, did acknowledge he likes the actor very much and would be happy to work with him.
Little Mix member Jade Thirlwall, meanwhile, has been rumored for the role of Jasmine. The singer, however, refused to confirm nor deny the rumors and only said her work with the girl group always comes first.
“Aladdin” is due to begin filming in July. The live-action film has no scheduled release date so far.