British filmmaker Guy Ritchie is having a rough summer what with his big budget Arthurian epic King Arthur: Legend of the Sword getting critically slaughtered, called out for sexist bullshit, and pulling in only a paltry $38 million domestically in 4 1/2 weeks. (By contrast, Wonder Woman amassed that much by the Friday of its opening weekend.) But don’t worry for Ritchie. Even with King Arthur marking his second dud in a row (Sorry Man For Uncle loyalists), he’s a white dude in Hollywood, so he’s got yet big-budget movie on the horizon. That’d be Disney’s live-action Aladdin. Considering it’s about a plucky street rat with scads of style and a never-say-die attitude, it makes a certain amount of sense Ritchie was plucked for the project. But rumors have started about who he might cast as the villainous sorcerer Jafar, and oh boy is the possible pick raising some eyebrows.
Rather than just report this rumor, let’s make a game of it and see when you can figure it out with a series of clues. Share when you got the answer in comments.
Clue #1: It’s a white guy. Because of course when casting a Middle Eastern character for a major motion picture, you cast a white guy. Just look at how well that worked for Exodus Gods and Kings, Prince of Persia, and Gods of Egypt.
Clue #2: This white actor was born in London, England.
Clue #3: He’s no stranger to being the baddie. Two of his most popular movies had him playing the villain. One of those films was a superhero movie.
Clue #4: The other baddie role scored him his first Oscar nomination.
Clue #5: He’s worked with a long list of acclaimed filmmakers, including Sofia Coppola, Ridley Scott, Nicolas Winding Refn, Christopher Nolan, and George Miller.
Clue #6: He’s also appeared in a Guy Ritchie movie before.
Clue #7: He’s not Vinnie Jones.
Clue #8: It is one of the men featured in these gifs.
Clue #9: He’s played a gangster, a spy, a terrorist, a bootlegger, a boxer, a fur trapper, and twins.
Clue #10: Though critics seem to love him, reviews often complain of his unintelligible accents.
Got it? Because the answer is below.
According to The Sun, Guy Ritchie has approached Oscar-nominated Revenant star Tom Hardy to play Jafar in his live-action Aladdin remake, reuniting the pair who’d collaborated previously on RocknRolla,. According to the Sun’s unnamed source:
“Guy is a huge fan of Tom’s work and securing him would be a major coup. There have been conversations and, although nothing is set in stone and things are subject to change, he’s certainly one of Guy’s favoured choices…It just depends on schedules whether he’ll be able to sign up.”
Now, yes, this is The Sun, so this could be tabloid bunk pure and simple. Plus, Aladdin producer Dan Lin had previously promised fans this adaptation would make a “diverse version of the movie.” What that means exactly remains to be seen. But the backlash over the Hardy rumor came swiftly to Twitter.
The first song in Aladdin is called ARABIAN NIGHTS.— Roxxy Haze (@iamroxxyhaze) June 12, 2017
And you want Tom Hardy…to play Jafar. pic.twitter.com/i56EUHkvO2
Tom Hardy, whatever you think you'll get out of playing Jafar in a live action ALADDIN, I promise it isn't worth it. Don't do it, girl…— [kie.ran] (@danblackroyd) June 13, 2017
Me if Tom Hardy takes the Jafar role pic.twitter.com/qvuMs3FhDf— skyrim remademaster✨ (@_jasontodds) June 12, 2017
Disney, please don't do this. https://t.co/Ly1p1hUfZw— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) June 12, 2017
As we saw with Iron Fist and Ghost In The Shell, whitewashing is an issue that can derail a studio’s marketing campaign, and arguably tank their product. So if this rumor is true, Disney and Ritchie would be wise to listen to fans before it’s too late. However, in the wake of the backlash, Hardy’s team has stepped forward to squash the story. And maaaaaaybe a rumor is all it ever was. But considering how often and obliviously Hollywood casts white men in all the roles, it’s hard to blame anyone for falling for this story.