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Big lamp to fill: Will Smith may play the Genie in Disney’s live-action ‘Aladdin’

Why it matters to you

The addition of Smith would make for another big name starring in a Disney live-action remake.

Disney’s live-action remakes of animated classics have proven both popular and lucrative, so not surprisingly, they keep attracting well-known talent. Will Smith may soon be the latest star to join the fun. The actor is in early talks to play the Genie in the new AladdinDeadline reports.

The upcoming adaptation is set to be directed by Guy Ritchie and will retell the story of everybody’s favorite street-rat-turned-prince. If Smith plays the Genie, he’ll take over the role voiced by Robin Williams in the 1992 film. Those are big shoes to fill, but Smith has the acting chops, not to mention the musical background, to pull it off.

Like its predecessor, the live-action Aladdin will be a musical, giving Smith, who was a rapper before he was an actor, a chance to perform musical numbers like “Friend Like Me.” Whether or not the casting will become official, though, remains to be seen. Smith was previously said to be in talks for a role in Disney’s upcoming Dumbo but never reached a deal, according to Deadline.

Disney has been riding high on the success of its live-action adaptations the last few years, especially its most recent, Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. The film set multiple opening weekend records in March and has brought in more than $1 billion, according to Box Office Mojo data. Although not as wildly successful, Disney’s live-action retellings of The Jungle Book (2016), Maleficent (2014), and Alice in Wonderland (2010), also did the studio proud.

The new Aladdin will have its chance to impress as well. The story will again center on a poor young man who falls in love with a princess and uses wishes from a genie to win her over. Based on a classic tale, the 1992 film was written by John August.

Aladdin is expected to begin shooting in July in the U.K.