It's a great time to be a Disney fan.
On the heels of the successful live-action remakes of The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland, Disney will continue to quench your thirst for nostalgia by bringing many more of its beloved characters back to the big screen. Currently, there are over a dozen live-action movies in the works, including complete remakes and sequels to already existing adaptations.
Next year, Disney will up the magic with the release of the highly anticipated Beauty and the Beast remake starring Emma Watson. Also slated are The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and 101 Dalmatians (which will star Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil).
But hey, if the Mouse House is going to bring back the classics — and maybe ruin our childhoods in the process — the least they can do is cast these films perfectly. So, without further ado, here are our picks for the actors we think should star in six of our favorite upcoming live-action remakes: The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Pinocchio.
But first, a quick word.
Considering Hollywood's terrible habit of whitewashing roles, we hope that Disney does cast films like The Lion King and Aladdin thoughtfully and respectfully. If the backlash against that leaked live-action Mulan script is any indication, Disney is going to have to strive for better. And Disney, if you need some inspiration, please feel free to use one of our suggestions below. On that note, let's jump right in...
1. The Lion King
Think about it, John Legend covering "Hakuna Matata" as adult Simba? Yes, please. His voice also perfectly captures adult Simba's strength and innocence. If you've seen Scandal, you know that Kerry Washington is kind of a bad-ass, someone who has a voice that would keep Simba in check. Stepping into the roles of young Simba and Nala are Stranger Things' Caleb McLaughlin and Black-ish star Yara Shahidi. Mahershala Ali had a big 2016 with starring roles in the critically-acclaimed Moonlight. He was also the perfect, tortured villain in Netflix's Luke Cage, and someone who would bring a sort of confident sinisterness to the role of Scar. If you've seen Westworld, you know that Thandie Newton just needs to be in everything. Period. Finally, Issa Rae slayed it this year with her hilarious HBO comedy Insecure. She's got the voice, the spunk, and the comedic chops to portray the sassy leader of Scar's dimwitted hyena crew.
Riz Ahmed hit it big this year as the star of HBO's breakout drama The Night Of. He's got the charm and the charisma to channel the film's titular hero — and the singing, or ummm, rapping chops, too. Golshifteh Farahani is a rising star and award-winning actress who has worked with some of Iran's top directors. She recently starred in Jim Jarmusch's 2016 indie drama Paterson alongside Adam Driver and is primed for breakout success (a starring role as Princess Jasmine, perhaps?). In his career, Haaz Sleiman has showcased his acting range. He's played a gay nurse on Nurse Jackie and Jesus Christ in Killing Jesus — and could easily slip into the role of the film's calculating antagonist easily. British stand-up comedian Omid Djalili (The Mummy and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) would definitely bring a sense of humor to the Sultan. And we know, we know — no one will ever replace Robin Williams as the Genie, but we think former SNL star (and Kim K impersonator) Nasim Pedrad would be up for the challenge.
Constance Wu is the beating heart of ABC's Fresh Off the Boat. She brings humor, sass, and compassion to her role as Jessica Huang. The actress is also a fan favorite right now, and has singing chops, too. Playing Li Shang would catapult Harry Shum Jr.'s rising star. Since his singing and dancing days on Glee, he's gone on to star in the 2016 prequel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. Lisa Lu has enjoyed a lengthy acting career that can be traced back to the 1950s. She's the perfect choice for the wise and adventurous Grandmother Fa. Mushu is probably one of the most important casting choices, so that honor should go to Hollywood mainstay Jackie Chan.
Jacob Tremblay found plenty of success after an impressive performance in 2015's Room co-starring Brie Larson. Tremblay is not only adorable, he conveys innocence and curiosity well on the big-screen. Anthony Hopkins proved himself to be a masterful tinkerer with the hosts on Westworld, so it would be awesome to see him bring that mysterious madman vibe to Geppetto. Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez makes us feel happy all the time, so she would definitely bring on the magic as the Blue Fairy. Millie Bobby Brown should just reprise her role as Eleven, and channel that powerful rage and terror into Monstro the whale.
5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Mia Wasikowska is a fairytale darling. She's played Alice in both Alice in Wonderland live-action remakes, as well as the lead in Guillermo Del Toro's brilliant gothic horror Crimson Peak. Wasikowska definitely has the acting chops and vibe to add depth to the role of Snow White. Nicholas Hoult has been low-key killing it in the movie industry lately with roles in Mad Max: Fury Road, Warm Bodies, Equals, and X-Men: Apocalypse. If anyone can add dimension to The Prince, Hoult can. Rosario Dawson is perfect as the Evil Queen because Rosario Dawson is legit a queen. Rounding out the cast is The Get Down's Justice Smith (Bashful), Dear White People/Westworld's Tessa Thompson (Doc), SNL funnywoman Kate McKinnon (Happy), and Silicon Valley's Zach Woods.
6. The Little Mermaid
It's a damn shame that Sofia Coppola will no longer be directing the live-action The Little Mermaid, but the show must go on. Evan Rachel Wood and James Marsden had chemistry as Dolores and Teddy on Westworld, and could bring that magic under the sea to Atlantica as Ariel and Eric. Also, imagine Liam Neeson bringing his overbearing bad-ass dad schtick from Taken to the role of King Triton. (Plus, we'd give anything to hear Neeson say, "What I do have are a very particular set of skills" in an attempt to scare off Prince Eric and his pesky humans.) Ursula the seawitch is all about camp, and Lady Gaga can channel that in her sleep. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Tituss Burgess has played Sebastian before, and in this version we'd appreciate it if he somehow found a way to remix "Under the Sea" with "Peeno Noir." Hey, we can dream.