Marwan Kenzari, the actor who is poised to break through as part of the all-star cast of the upcoming Murder on the Orient Express, is in negotiations to star as the villain in Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin.
At the same time, former Saturday Night Live comedienne Nasim Pedrad has landed a role created specifically for the new movie.
Will Smith is toplining the pic as the wish-granting genie while Mena Massoud will play the title character, a street rat who ends up over his head when he pretends to be a prince in order to win the hand of Princess Jasmine, played by Naomi Scott.
The story, which aims to follow that of Disney’s 1992 animated classic while also taking cues from the folktales in One Thousand and One Nights, is set in Agrabah, a fictional cosmopolitan city inspired by locations and cultures from the Middle East to India and China.
If a deal is made, Kenzari will play Jafar, the grand vizier to the sultan of the Agrabah who wants to use the genie for his own nefarious plans. The character is in the pantheon of the most recognizable Disney villains and was voiced by Jonathan Freeman in the animated movie.
Pedrad will play Mara, a handmaiden and friend to Jasmine. The part is described as a comedic supporting role.
Guy Ritchie is directing the project from a script by John August (Big Fish, Corpse Bride). Dan Lin, who worked with Ritchie on Sherlock Holmes, is producing.
Kenzari also appeared in MGM's Ben-Hur, Universal's The Mummy and opposite Noomi Rapace and Glenn Close in Netflix’s action thriller What Happened to Monday.
In Fox’s all-star remake of Orient Express, Kenzari portrays the conductor of a train filled with duplicitous characters played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp and Josh Gad, among others. The actor is repped by ICM Partners and Janey van Ierland at Nummer19 Films in Holland.
Pedrad, who has also appeared on TV's Scream Queens and New Girl, is repped by CAA.