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10 Perfectly Cast Characters in Live-Action Disney Princess Movies – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

10 Perfectly Cast Characters in Live-Action Disney Princess Movies



Disney animated films have been enchanting children worldwide for many years, seeping into pop culture and capturing the hearts of audiences. The characters that have come to life in these films are unforgettable, with many people being able to recall their stories and even sing along to the soundtracks. Amongst the characters that have made Disney the powerhouse it is today, the princesses hold a special place in the hearts of fans. The company has been assembling a team of princesses since the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney’s first animated film in 1937. In 1994, Disney began working on live-action adaptations of its beloved animated films, and it was consolidated in 2010 with Tim Burton’s blockbuster Alice in Wonderland. Since then, the company has delighted audiences with live-action films of all kinds, with the remakes of princess films being the most eagerly awaited but also the most criticized by fans. It is undoubtedly difficult to live up to the classics we all know and love, but throughout the years, these movies have managed to bring something new to the table, allowing audiences to enjoy familiar stories delivered by some of their favorite actors.

Casting the right actors to play these iconic characters is one of the most challenging tasks in these projects, and the filmmakers’ decisions often spark controversy and even backlash from fans. However, on some occasions, the actors cast to play characters in these live-action films proved to be perfect for their roles. In the 2019 live-action film Aladdin, Will Smith was cast as the Genie, a character originally played by Robin Williams. The announcement of Smith’s casting was met with backlash from fans, but he managed to deliver a hilarious interpretation of the character that was different from Williams’ but still inspired by it. Cate Blanchett was cast as Lady Tremaine in the 2015 live-action Cinderella, and her portrayal of the evil stepmother was spot on, delving deeper into the character’s personality and backstory. Helena Bonham Carter played the Fairy Godmother in the same film, bringing her own twist to the character and turning her into a funny and awkward sorceress. Emma Watson was the perfect candidate to play Belle in the 2017 live-action Beauty and the Beast, sharing many traits with the character and delivering a magnificent portrayal. Josh Gad played LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick in the same film, and though his performance was loved by audiences, it failed to live up to the character’s portrayal as the first openly gay character in a Disney film. Naomi Scott played Jasmine in the 2019 live-action Aladdin, capturing the princess’s brave and adventurous demeanor and even receiving a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Saturn Awards. Liu Yifei played Mulan in the 2020 live-action remake, which was met with controversy upon its release.

In conclusion, Disney’s live-action adaptations of its animated films have been both eagerly awaited and criticized by fans. Casting the right actors to play these iconic characters is a challenging task, but on some occasions, the actors have proved to be perfect for their roles. These live-action films bring something new to the table, allowing audiences to enjoy familiar stories delivered by some of their favorite actors.

Disney animated films have been delighting the childhood of millions of kids around the world for many, many years. They have snuck into pop culture and their characters have struck a chord in the hearts of the audience to the point that everybody knows them and perfectly recalls their stories. In some cases, people even remember the lyrics of the songs in the soundtracks by heart. Among the characters who were responsible for turning Disney into the powerhouse it is today, we cannot leave out the princesses, whose worldwide success was unparalleled. Since the premiere of Snow White and the Seven DwarfsDisney’s first animated film in 1937, the company has been assembling a team of princesses that grew bigger and more popular over the years.


In 1994, Disney started working on live-action adaptations of its much-loved animated films with the release of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Bookalthough this trend was only consolidated in 2010, with Tim Burton’s blockbuster Alice in Wonderland. From then on, the company has delighted audiences with live-action films of all kinds, and is still working on it today, having announced the remakes of Lilo & Stitch and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Naturally, since they are so significant in Disney’s history, the remakes of princess films are the most eagerly awaited and, on many occasions, also the most criticized by audiences.

Indeed, it is very hard to live up to the classics we all know and love, but throughout the years these movies managed to bring something new to the table, allowing the audience to enjoy the familiar stories delivered by some of their favorite actors. Choosing the artists who will step into the shoes of these characters is one of the most challenging tasks in these projects, and the filmmakers’ decisions often spark controversy and even backlash from fans. However, on a few occasions, the actors cast to play characters in these live-action films proved to be perfect for their roles.

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10 Will Smith — Aladdin

Will Smith in Aladdin
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The 2019 live-action film Aladdin had a bigger challenge than the rest of Disney’s remakes: casting an actor who could live up to Robin Williams’ interpretation of the Genie. This character became iconic both for Disney and for the actor’s career, and was so acclaimed by everyone that, faced with the announcement of this new production, audiences had very high hopes as to which artist they would choose to carry on Williams’ legacy.

Ultimately, the final choice was Will Smithwho had some doubts and fears that he would not be able to live up to the expectations. However, despite the initial backlash from fans, the actor turned the character around and made it his own, delivering a hilarious interpretation that was very different from Robin’s, although inspired by it. For his role in this production, Will Smith was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Saturn Awards and received a Teen Choice Award for Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie Actor.

Related: Disney’s Snow White Live-Action: Plot, Cast, Release Date, and Everything Else We Know

9 Cate Blanchett — Cinderella

Cate Blanchett in Cinderella
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Over the years, Disney has introduced many villains who ended up carving a place in the hearts of the audience with their unique personalities, to the point where, in many cases, their wicked behaviors were often justified. However, Lady Tremaine is not among them, and is generally a character quite despised by the audience. This woman is the main antagonist in Cinderellawho becomes Cinderella’s stepmother after she marries her father. Lady Tremaine loathes this young woman, so much so that, when her father dies, she deprives her of her room, forcing her to leave it to her daughters, and makes her the main responsible for the care and cleaning of the home.

In the 2015 live-action, director Kenneth Branagh, along with the crew, cast the wonderful Cate Blanchett to bring this character to life, and this choice could not have been more accurate. Besides perfectly conveying the essence of this evil woman and treating the audience to a number of impeccable costumes, Blanchett was able to delve even deeper into Lady Tremaine’s personality, trying to find the origin of her awful temper and hatred towards the princess, something that is undoubtedly shown on screen.

8 Helena Bonham Carter — Cinderella

Helena Bonham Carter in Cinderella
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Casting Blanchett as Lady Tremaine wasn’t the only good call made by the filmmakers behind the 2015 film Cinderella. Among the perfectly cast actors was also Helena Bonham Carterwho played the Fairy Godmother. For many, Bonham Carter may not be the first choice they think of when recalling the kind and gentle character from the 1950 film, and yet, the actress was indeed the first person the crew thought of when casting the role. Evidently, Bonham Carter brought her own twist to the character, turning her into a slightly awkward, very funny sorceress who, at the end of the day, only wants to help the princess, just like the original character.

7 Emma Watson — Beauty and the Beast

Emma Watson in Beauty And The Beast
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

No actress is better suited to play the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast than Emma Watson. That’s why the announcement of her incorporation into Bill Condon’s 2017 film drove fans wild. Watson’s personality shares many, many traits with this intellectual and loving young girl who has a strong interest in striving for something better, and her portrayal of the character is truly magnificent. This is not the first time Watson has played such a character in her career, as before Belle, there was, of course, Hermione Granger, with whom she also shared that smart and dedicated attitude.

Upon playing the character, Watson expressed her delight at being given the opportunity to play one of her childhood heroines (via TIME). Moreover, both the filmmakers and Paige O’Hara, the actress who voiced Bella in the 1992 film, agreed that Watson was the perfect candidate for the role. Still, some people felt that Emma’s voice was not up to the task of singing the popular songs of this classic.

6 Josh Gad — Beauty and the Beast

Josh Gad in Beauty and The Beast
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

In the same movie that cast Emma Watson as Belle, Josh Gad played LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick. LeFou is a character who is constantly mistreated by the film’s villain, yet he goes along with him every step of the way, helps him carry out his every plan and makes sure Gaston always feels like the hero he thinks he is.

In the 2017 live-action, the actor chosen to portray this character was Josh Gad, and the audience loved him from the very first moment they spotted him on screen. However, there is something about the character’s trademarks that did disappoint the audience and Gad himself. LeFou was supposedly introduced as the first openly gay character in a Disney film, and according to the actor, per Varietyhis performance failed to live up to what the character’s portrayal should have been like.

5 Naomi Scott — Aladdin

Naomi Scott in Aladdin
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Jasmine happens to be the reason why Aladdin is considered a Disney princess movie, despite not being named after said character. And thankfully, in the 2019 live-action film, the princess of Agrabah got the spotlight she rightfully deserves. Not only that, but she also landed a song of her own, “Speechless.”

Naomi Scott was the actress in charge of playing Jasmine in this production starring Mena Massoud, and she did a brilliant job capturing Jasmine’s brave and adventurous demeanor, while showing other sides of the character. Moreover, her physical resemblance to the princess is really undeniable. For her work in this production, Naomi received, among other accolades, a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Saturn Awards.

Related: Disney’s Live Action Moana Finds its Director in Hamilton’s Thomas Kail

4 Liu Yifei — Mulan

Liu Yifei in Mulan
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2020’s Mulan was quite controversial at the time of its release, and a large part of the audience was not happy with this remake for several reasons. Two of the most controversial choices of this production involved director Niki Caro’s reluctance to include the songs and musical numbers from the original film, as well as the popular character of Mushu, played by comedian Eddie Murphy.

Still, there is one thing that cannot be denied about this film adaptation, and that is Liu Yifei‘s excellent performance as this brave Disney warrior princess. Among the accolades received by the actress, Yifei earned a Best Actress nomination at the Saturn Awards.

3 Luke Evans — Beauty and the Beast

Luke Evans in Beauty and The Beast
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The Beauty and the Beast team did a great job casting most of their actors, though they certainly knocked it out of the park with Luke Evans as Gaston, the arrogant figure who tries over and over again to get Belle to marry him. Throughout the film, Evans charms audiences in the role of this self-centered villain, so much so that he won the Teen Choice Award for Best Villain. He manages to deliver the essence of the character while endearing him to people.

Moreover, this movie further explores Gaston’s relationship with his sidekick Lefou, something that delighted audiences. A Disney+ series starring these two characters was originally announced, although the project never came to fruition.

2 Angelina Jolie — Maleficent

Angelina Jolie in Maleficent
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2014 marked the release of Maleficenta live-action movie that recounted the story of Sleeping Beautybut from the villain’s perspective. This production, directed by Robert Stromberg, featured Angelina Jolie as the lead actress, stepping into the shoes of this misunderstood Disney villain.

Although the film did not meet with the best reviews, critics highly praised Jolie’s performance as Maleficent, portraying her as a complex character with a very particular sense of humor, conveying the many facets of the villain throughout her story. Angelina reprised the role in the 2019 sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evilearning critical acclaim once again.

1 Halle Bailey — The Little Mermaid

Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

At the top of this list is the latest addition to Disney’s line-up of princesses, Halle Bailey. When the actress and singer was announced to play Ariel in the live-action version of The Little Mermaidshe was met with racist backlash from many people who disagreed with the fact that the popular mermaid would be played by a Black actress. At the time, Bailey was supported by a huge part of the audience, as well as by the film’s production and important Disney figures, such as Jodi Benson, the actress who voiced the character in the original film.

Despite criticism, Halle Bailey proved to be the ideal fit for the role, and her performance turned out to be one of the most remarkable elements of the movie, along with her beautiful voice. Undoubtedly, her work as Ariel in this production promises to earn Bailey a great deal of accolades and a promising future in the industry.

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