Disney’s live-action adaptation of Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie, has finally cast its lead villain, Jafar. Marwan Kenzari, who will next appear in the upcoming Murder on the Orient Express, is in negotiations with the studio for the role, THR reports. The outlet is also reporting that former Saturday Night Live star Nasim Pedrad has landed a role specifically created for the new film.
This should come as welcome news to fans who were worried that the studio might whitewash the characters, especially when rumors began to pop up that Ritchie was eyeing Tom Hardy for Jafar.
Kenzari and Pedrad join the previously announced cast of Will Smith as the genie, Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as princess Jasmine. By now, you should all know the story of Aladdin, but if not, here’s a refresher: the 1992 animated classic borrowed elements of folk tales in One Thousand and One Nights to create a timeless love story set in the fictional mid-east city of Agrabah. Street riff-raff meets princess, falls in love, dabbles with some magic forces and saves the day. Classic.
Jafar, originally voiced by Jonathan Freeman, is the “vizier to the sultan of the city who wants to use the genie for his own nefarious plan of taking power.” He is widely considered to be one of the best villain’s in Disney’s storied history. Pedrad, meanwhile, will play the role of Mara, the handmaiden and friend to Jasmine who THR suggests will provide some comic relief.
Kenzari has previously starred in MGM’s Ben-Hur and Universal’s The Mummy. He also stars alongside Noomi Rapace and Glenn Close in the upcoming Netflix action thriller What Happened to Monday.
Ritchie’s Aladdin is now shaping up nicely with a diverse and interesting cast. Hopefully, his take on the material will be more The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and less King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.