Disney’s Live-Action ‘Hercules’ Fan-Casting Begins: Amber Riley And More Big Names in the Mix

From The Jungle Book in 2016 to The Lion King and Lady and the Tramp in 2019, Disney has been making a lot of money off of its old properties. Now, a live-action version of Hercules is the next rumored adaptation of an animated movie making its way to the big screen. Here are some of the celebrities who have been named in the search for a cast.

Ariana Grande’s recent performance has fans calling for her to play Meg

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With more to come on the titular character, let’s start off with the leading lady of the film. Megara, or Meg as she’s known, is Hercules’ love interest — a not-so-classic damsel in distress who is working with the god of the underworld, Hades, to take the hero down. But despite her tough exterior, she falls for him.

At The Disney Family Singalong on April 16, 2020, pop star Ariana Grande performed the song in which Meg realizes her true feelings, “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love).” This had fans immediately calling for her casting in the role. Grande doesn’t act very much these days, but she has a soft spot for musicals. (The artist had not yet commented at the time of publication.)

Amber Riley puts out a call to Disney

Amber Riley attends the Los Angeles Premiere 'Black Panther' on January 29, 2018
Amber Riley attends the Los Angeles Premiere ‘Black Panther’ on January 29, 2018 | Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Unlike many musicals, most of the songs in Hercules aren’t sung by the titular character. Instead, the five Muses (Calliope, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Clio) are the narrators of the story. This casting calls for Black women with powerful voices, and the internet has just the person.

“Um, hello @DisneyStudios remember me!” tweeted Amber Riley. The actor and singer, who is best known for her role in the Fox series Glee, had a role in the 2019 ABC special The Little Mermaid Live! Given her connection to Disney and musical chops, she’s managed to garner a lot of fan support to portray one of the Muses.

Paul Bullion wants in, too

Back to the main question: Who will play Hercules? Twitter had plenty of suggestions, from Netflix’s recent favorite leading man Noah Centineo to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Chris Hemsworth. But one actor threw his own name into the conversation — though it appears he was kidding.

British actor Paul Bullion is known for his recurring role in Season 2 of Peaky Blinders. After tweeting about the role in Hercules, he assured his followers that he “tweeted in jest,” but that he thinks he “could do the part justice.” However, he’s currently booked — Bullion is set to resume filming of Season 2 of The Witcher as soon as coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic protocols are lifted.

Will the casting be colorblind?

The Disney live-action adaptations have had one of two prominent issues plaguing them. Either they are essentially all CGI animals, which some argue defeats the purpose of calling them “live-action.” Or they do feature actual people, but the casting is heavily criticized, specifically when it comes to race.

The Little Mermaid adaptation, because it stars mostly mythical creatures, brought with it the colorblind casting of Halle Bailey. Hercules may be from Greece, but he’s also a god. Could Disney go with colorblind casting again? Only time will tell.