16 Stars Who Play Iconic Roles In Disney Live Action Films

For every tale as old as time, there’s usually a controversy that comes with it. After Disney’s most recent success with Beauty and the Beast, they’ve kicked their production schedule into overdrive. Though no one can deny that they aren’t excited for the slate of Disney live action remakes we’ve got in the making, the focus on casting is at an all-time high. When recreating some of the most iconic Disney films ever, people want to know that these stories are in the right hands and being told by the right people.

While many live action remakes are still searching for the right stars, like The Little Mermaid and Mulan, we’ve got a good amount of casting news that’s getting us excited for what’s to come. From Mary Poppins, The Lion King, Aladdin, and more, Disney is going all out with the biggest stars to take up some of the most iconic roles. Here are 16 of the newest faces who are ready to get us all singing, dancing, and feeling that Disney magic all over again!

Reese Witherspoon

What movie? Peter Pan
What character? Tinkerbelle

All you need is any happy little thought, a bit of pixie dust, and Reese Witherspoon to make a movie fly. That’s right, the Legally Blonde star has been officially cast as Peter Pan’s iconic fairy friend, Tinkerbelle. While Peter Pan will be getting its own live action film, too, this one is specifically a stand alone film for the sassy fairy. And who better to bring this character to life than one of the most beloved actresses in Hollywood? Though little is known about the plot of this film, one can only imagine that the oscar winning actress will be spreading the magic all around, and getting a little bit into trouble while doing it.

Michael Keaton

What movie? Dumbo
What character? Vandemere

Fresh off the heels of playing the main villain in Spiderman Homecoming, it seems like Michael Keaton is about to be up to no good once again. While little is known about the part, it has been confirmed that Keaton will be playing the villain in the live action version of Dumbo. There is talk that he will be playing a dastardly circus owner by the name of Vandemere, though nothing has been confirmed about the actual plot of the film.
While just the idea of a live action Dumbo should be enough to get people excited, there’s even more. The film is going to be directed by Tim Burton, whom Keaton has worked with previously (classic Tim Burton, amiright?). They first came together for the iconic film Beetlejuice and went on to work together on two Batman films. This will be the duo’s first time working together again since 1992. With flying elephants involved, who knows what weirdly brilliant film Burton will be able to come up with.

Will Smith

What movie? Aladdin
What character?: The Genie

Given three wishes on the perfect cast for a live action Aladdin, having Will Smith as the Genie would certainly be one of them. While this live action has certainly heralded its fair share of controversy over its recent casting choices, this is one everyone seems to be happy with. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star has all the energy and pizazz to take on this iconic character who was first made famous by the voice of the late Robin Williams.

Naomi Scott

What movie? Aladdin
What character? Jasmine

Now, this has become one of the most talked about casting choices as of late. Although Disney admitted that they were having trouble casting the lead duo, they announced their decision at the D23 expo on July 2. Power Rangers star, Naomi Scott snagged the Disney Princess role. Scott has previously worked with Disney before on the Disney Channel Original Movie Lemonade Mouth in 2011, where she showed off her singing abilities.
The controversy surrounding this casting doesn’t come from whether or not Scott is a good actress, but of whether or not she is the best choice to represent the Middle Eastern Princess correctly. Disney, along with the rest of Hollywood, has found itself widely criticized lately for its inability to represent characters of various races, often opting to have white actors/actresses take roles from POC. Thus casting an actress of British and Indian origin, as opposed to an actress from the Middle East has caused a stir among audiences. While critics may criticize this casting choice, only time will tell if Scott can pull off the part and really bring this character to life.

Mena Massoud

What movie? Aladdin
What character? Aladdin

While the casting of his love interest may have caused a stir, the casting of the titular star went over a lot better. Mena’s casting received a bit of a more welcome reception by audiences and critics as the actor was born in Egypt, and even though he was raised in Canada for most of his life. This will be the biggest role for the star yet but as long as he can stay one jump ahead, I’m sure audiences will be impressed by his turn as our favorite street-rat-turned-Disney-Prince.

Donald Glover

What movie? The Lion King
What character? Simba

Whether he is rapping as Childish Gambino, or making waves on his own show Atlanta, our favorite Donald seems to be taking over the world. Thus, it should surprise no one that the actor/rapper is more than ready to be King. Childish Gambino will be taking on the role of Simba in the live action rendition of the Lion King and will be defending his crown alongside a stacked cast. For anyone who was skeptical of this live action remake, worry no more. This, plus all the other casting choices, should make everyone feel the love for this film.

Hugh Jackman

What movie? The Lion King
What character? Scar

This won’t be Hugh Jackman’s first time adorning some claws. Taking on the main villain in the live action version of the The Lion King is Jackman in the dastardly role of Scar. While the actor is often seen saving the day, this time around he will have the chance to really stir up trouble. From killing his own brother (RT if you cry everytime) to terrorizing the residents of Pride Rock, it will be interesting to see how Hughie takes on the role. ~Be prepared~, it’s going to be one wild ride.

John Oliver

What movie? The Lion King
What character? Zazu

If anyone was unsure of Disney’s casting choices, this one should bring a smile to your face. Who better to be the nagging voice of reason than the HBO talk show host? Bringing the paranoid bird to life, who else is better to take down the bad guy with comical reason than someone who already does that for a living?

Billy Eichner

What movie? The Lion King
What character? Timon

Over the top? Check. Loud? Check. Slightly insane? Double check. Guess who Billy Eichner will bring to life in The Lion King? He checks off all the boxes when its comes to successfully portraying the meerkat, Timon. Billy, known for his antics on his show Billy on the Street, has been confirmed to play one-half of the “Hakuna Matata”-loving duo. As another stellar choice to the already bomb cast, I’m sure everyone is dying to see exactly what Billy will be like as a meerkat. And I have a feeling none of us will be disappointed once we do.

Seth Rogen

What movie? The Lion King
What character? Pumba

When you think of someone who loves to play a character loving life with ~no worries for the rest of your days~, who is the first actor that comes to mind? Seth Rogen has gotta be up there! The actor is known for letting his worries fade away, and so its only fitting that he would be a member of the duo that made that phrase infamous. Playing the role of the lovably goofy Warthog, Pumba, is Rogen, who will be bringing his iconic voice and laugh to the part. While he may have been bullied by the other warthogs when he was young, this version of Pumba will be one that everyone will want to be best friends with — no matter the smell.

Emily Blunt

What movie? Mary Poppins
What character? Mary Poppins

For every job that must be done, you can be sure that Emily Blunt is going to bring the fun. Leading the sequel Mary Poppins Returns is Emily Blunt, who will be taking on the iconic role of the magical nanny. Though this live action is not specifically a remake, it is still one of the most anticipated films on the Disney calendar. Having shown off her singing chops in Into The Woods, no one will be surprised when she nails some of our favorite Mary Poppins songs, and probably some new ones too, in the upcoming film.
While Julie Andrews will always be the OG Mary Poppins, Em is the perfect choice to carry on the legacy for this new generation.

Lin Manuel Miranda

What movie? Mary Poppins
What character? Jack

One of the musical geniuses behind Disney’s latest animated film Moana will be getting his chance to help front a Disney live action. Lin Manuel Miranda, known as being the creator and star of the Broadway hit Hamilton, is going to be taking on the role of Jack. Jack, a street lamplighter accompanying Mary Poppins, will most likely be a character similar to that of Bert in the original, played by Dick Van Dyke. While not much is known exactly about his character or his relaysh with Mary Poppins, one can only imagine how amazing his musical numbers are going to be.

Meryl Streep

What movie? Mary Poppins
What character? Topsy

No matter what movie Meryl Streep is in, you know it’s going to be a good one. Put together Meryl and Mary Poppins, and you already know you’ve got a mega-hit in your hands. Though Streep will not be playing the titular character, she will be playing none other than Mary Poppins cousin, Topsy. It is said that her character lives in her own topsy-turvy reality, hence the name, and is visited by Mary Poppins and the Banks family at some point during the film.
To make things even more exciting this will be Streep’s third time working with Emily Blunt, who plays MP. The two of them have worked together on The Devil Wears Prada, and also Into The Woods, which was a Disney live action musical directed by Rob Marshall — who is also directing this film. To see the three of them all back together should get people not only excited but looking for a spoon full of sugar because this movie is going to go down in the most delightful way.

Emma Stone

What movie? 101 Dalmations
What character? Cruella De Vil

While I’m sure no one can imagine Emma Stone hurting anyone, she’s going to have to learn how to for this role. Because if Emma Stone doesn’t scare you, then no evil thing will. Stone has been cast in the live action film centered around the Dalmatian-snatching villain. Much like what they did with Angelina Jolie and Maleficent, Disney is looking to not only make live action films about our favorite heroes but about our favorite villains too. So get ready to see Stone in some fur, because she’s coming for your dog and no one is going to get in her way.

Keira Knightley

What movie? The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
What character? The Sugar Plum Fairy

Though this film is not one of the more iconic ones in Disney canon, it’s still shaping up to have a pretty impressive film roster. The Nutcracker remake is slated to be released next year. While this is not Keira’s first time collaborating with Disney (duh — she starred in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films), this is likely to be one of her most intriguing roles yet.

Morgan Freeman

What movie? The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
What character? Drosselmeyer

Another high profile addition to The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is the man with the voice we all love, Morgan Freeman. While this may be another film where little is known, it has been confirmed that he will be playing a character by the name of Drosselmeyer. In the original ballet version of the story, Drosselmeyer is the mysterious magician who has the ability to bring toys to life and thus causing the events to occur. It will be interesting to see where Freeman and Disney take this character, and how they bring not only the toys but also Drosselmeyer, to life.

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