Tom Hardy Denies Jafar Rumors
Disney is brilliant at taking stories and making fantastic animated films, but it maybe hasn’t made huge strides on the diversity scale. So when Aladdin producer Dan Lin announced that they would be casting the new live-action film with more authentic actors, many fans were excited. They brought in Guy Ritchie, who admits he has a penchant for the street urchin-type character, who also stated his desire to keep the cast true to the setting.
Then they started tossing around Tom Hardy‘s name as Jafar.
Twitter lost its collective mind. A source stated that the casting was only down to scheduling, and people began expressing their dissatisfaction both to Disney and Ritchie himself, sending names of many actors of Middle Eastern/Asian descent that would be a better fit for the role.
The Disney story is set in the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah and tells the story of a street urchin/thief who steals a magic lamp at the behest of Jafar, only to find that the lamp holds a genie who will grant his wishes. The original animated film was voiced exclusively by white actors. Many also criticized it for encouraging Middle Eastern stereotypes.
In the wake of “Oscars So White” and the public backlash, there have been some laudable steps to increase diversity in both terms of race and gender, but there are still steps to be taken. Aladdin seemed to be (mostly) making strides in the right direction, with Will Smith rumored to have the role of Genie and a campaign to cast Jade Thirwell as Jasmin. So Tom Hardy seems an unusual step.
Thankfully Hardy’s rep has stepped forward and quashed the rumors. Ritchie and Hardy have expressed interest in working with each other, but it doesn’t look like this will be the vehicle that makes that happen.
Disney has a full slate of live-action remakes of its classic original films, whether we want them or not, with some big names as directors. Lion King will see Jon Favreau returning to Disney, Tim Burton will direct Dumbo, and the scheduled Oliver Twist remake will be directed by Tommy Kail of Hamilton and In the Heights fame. Little Mermaid, Sword in the Stone, Pinocchio, and two Mulans (one by Sony) are also in the works.