While we still don't know who is playing Aladdin or Princess Jasmine in Disney's live-action remake of Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie, a report emerged earlier this week that Will Smith is in talks to play Genie, the role made famous by Robin Williams in the 1992 animated original.
Seeing Will Smith's name attached to a #Disney movie is no surprise. In fact, the Focus star was rumored to play the lead role in Disney's live-action #Dumbo before he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. But is he right for Genie?
Since starring in the '90s family sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith has become one of Hollywood's biggest names, starring in huge movies like Independence Day, Ali, Men in Black, The Pursuit of Happiness and Concussion. While Smith has taken on more dramatic roles, he hasn't relinquished his comedic roots. It's no wonder that the studio would have Will Smith's name on its shortlist for the charismatic, all-powerful Genie.
While Will Smith is a very talented and funny actor, there is another actor that Disney should consider over "Big Willy From Philly," however. Will Smith may be funny, but he doesn't hold a candle to Eddie Murphy. If anyone can recreate the loud, raunchy but family-friendly magic of Robin Williams, it's the 56-year-old all-time great.
The Man of Many Faces
While carrying the load and saving Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy starred in a couple of instant classics: 48 Hours and Trading Places. After his #SNL departure, Murphy went on to star in the first of three Beverly Hills Cop movies and made one of the greatest (if not the greatest) stand-up specials of all time with Raw — but Eddie was just getting started.
In the late '80s and early '90s Murphy owned Hollywood, continuing his run with movies like Coming to America, Harlem Nights, Another 48 Hours, Boomerang and The Distinguished Gentlemen. With comedy blockbuster The Nutty Professor in 1995, Murphy played the kindhearted Sherman Klump — and nearly the entire Klump family.
Eddie Is A Motherf**king Family Man
The late '90s and much of the 2000s saw a different side of Eddie, taking on family-friendly roles like Doctor Dolittle, I Spy and Daddy Daycare, just to name a few. And this culminated with his voice as Donkey in Shrek. As Donkey, Eddie was a funny, obnoxious sidekick — much like Genie was to Aladdin. H voice work gives him the edge over Will Smith.
In 1998 Murphy was introduced to Disney fan as the trash-talking mini dragon, Mushu, in Mulan. The film received rave reviews from critics. Mushu in some ways was a lot like Genie; he was loud, funny and musically inclined. He also serves as Mulan's comedic sidekick, helping her along the way as she joined the army in hopes of saving her father ─ ultimately becoming the army's greatest hero.
While Disney and Guy Ritchie continue to gather their cast, there's one man they should put on the top of the list — and that's Eddie Murphy. Not to knock #WillSmith, but there isn't a comedian or actor alive more capable of recreating the magic of Robin Williams' voice role than Eddie Murphy.