'Sinbad' Movie Producers Are Looking for a Middle Eastern Lead

David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman also reveal that the titular hero will have an Englishman along for the journey.
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David Hoberman (left) Todd Lieberman

When Sinbad sets sail again, it will be with an actor who represents the character's ethnic roots, its producers say.

"We've given it a lot of thought, and that would be the priority," producer David Hoberman told Heat Vision at the premiere of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  

Hoberman also revealed that the plot will see the titular character sharing the screen with a British character, and another character as well.

"We have an Englishman that goes along with him. It's a two-hander, and almost a three hander."

Beauty and the Beast is the first of three adaptations for Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, who, in addition to Sinbad, have Disney's Chip 'n' Dale in the works. Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik is on board to direct Sinbad for Studio 8, with a script from Kyle Killen.

Sinbad first appeared in stories from the Middle East that Western readers were introduced to in The Arabian Nights, which followed the fortunes of the sailor who found himself stranded on islands and going on adventure after adventure until he returned to his home in Baghdad with riches. Sinbad tales have been adapted for the screen a number of times, including in 1958's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, which featured stop-motion effects from pioneering visual effects artist Ray Harryhausen. 

As for Beauty and the Beast, Hoberman said the biggest struggle of adapting it was "staying true to the original while also giving it our own kind or identity."

The producers' pledge to cast a Middle Eastern lead comes after casting choices in other films have sparked conversations about whitewashing in Hollywood.

Last week, news broke that Disney was seeking actors of Middle Eastern decent for its live action Aladdin remake. Disney's Mulan is also asking that those who audition speak "fluent English and Mandarin Chinese."