When it comes to Disney live-action remakes, most folks have a strong opinion. If you enjoy them, kudos for being brave enough to accept new renditions of your childhood favorites. If they aren’t your thing, this article isn’t for you and it never was. I’m on team “I enjoy a good live-action adventure, but the properties I’d execute first actually haven’t been developed yet.” You know, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, the movies that would naturally lend themselves to our real world. When looking over Disney’s catalog and weighing which property really deserves to see the light of live-action, nothing even comes close to Hercules. And lucky for us, last week it was confirmed to be in the works, with Joe and Anthony Russo producing (Avengers: Endgame) and Dave Callaham (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) at the helm of screenwriting.
At its core, Disney’s 1996 cult classic Hercules is an action movie. OK — it’s also about finding a place where you belong. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the technology that has been applied to blockbusters like Zack Snyder’s 300 could lend itself to this story in a spectacular way. Aside from seeing a grandiose Mount Olympus and the formidable Titans come to life, which alone would be super cool, Hercules is stacked with a brilliant soundtrack that is nothing short of godly.
Fantastical environments, astounding music, and did I mention a cast of beloved characters? A hero who can’t fit in amongst his peers, a smooth and smart damsel who is in distress, but doesn’t need saving – these feel like tropes we see more often than not as of late. But in 1996, this animated film was a pioneer of its time. For that reason alone, the thought behind casting each character is so important. I’ve been hypothesizing for years which Hollywood alumni would snag which roles.
Here are my choices. Again, they’re my choices. So I’m really happy for you that you want Jojo Siwa to play Meg due to their sisterly affinity for ponytails, but that’s an article for your blog.
Noah Centineo as Hercules
The title role of Herc seems like the hardest to cast. With names like Chris Pratt rolling around to snag it, my interpretation would be to go for fresher talent, like Noah Centineo. He has been cast as He-Man in the upcoming Masters of the Universe film which may serve to be problematic? But equally as problematic is that I thought he was the antagonist of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before until like the last fifteen minutes of the movie. And I was like, “Oh I guess he does dig Lara Jean and it’s stringing her along to be a jerk? Not sure why he seems secretly menacing? OK then.”
Ariana Grande as Megara
You want a sisterly affinity for ponytails? I’ll give you one. In 2015 Ari covered “Zero to Hero” on We Love Disney, a record that featured stars singing popular House of Mouse anthems. In 2020, Grande revealed that her favorite Disney film is Hercules, on the televised Disney Family Singalong. During the show she sang “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” and something clicked. My original wish of seeing a quirky, sassy Aubrey Plaza Meg was no more. And although Anna Kendrick is the rumor on the streets, Ariana will put butts in theater seats.
Tom Hiddleston as Hades
With the Russo Bros attached to this project, I figure we’re bound to see at least one member of the Avengers fam show up to take part. Tom Hiddleston definitely has what it takes to play a mischievous god; we’ve seen him own the character of Loki. As Hades, he could bring a dark, tongue-in-cheek element to this character while still making it his own. Admittedly, I was originally going to give this part to Jeff Goldblum until I decided how much Hiddleston looks like Hades. Look at the cartoon, now look back at Tom. Now do it again. I’m uncomfortable.
Kenan Thompson as Pain and Rachel Dratch as Panic
Roll in the SNL crew for the big funny. My Pain and Panic were cast merely based on energy. This was almost a Kenan & Kel moment, but Disney would never sign off on that (sorry Kel, there goes yet another job opportunity). The pair’s previous chemistry would easily translate to the big screen, making these comedians perfect for Hades’ henchmen.
Keri Russell as Hera and Kurt Russell as Zeus
They have the same last name. They are not related. I Googled it. Then, I Googled it again. But maybe they should be related, by marriage? That’s now this pairing was born and that’s just fine.
Jonathan Van Ness as Hermes
Hermes isn’t even a huge role within Hercules but, give it to Jonathan Van Ness. It’s the right thing to do. I just picture him being so elated, strung up on some wires, gracefully swimming through the air on the green screen. Now any other actor will just feel subpar. Hermes also kind of reminds me of Andy Dick but I’m going to leave that one alone.
Lizzo as Thalia, Keke Palmer as Clio, Jennifer Hudson as Calliope, Kelly Rowland as Melpomene, and Janelle Monáe as Terpsichore
The Muses are goddesses in their own right and there’s no going wrong with this lineup. Lizzo feels like a shoo-in, already having had expressed interest in the part of Thalia last year via Instagram Stories. Keke is often affiliated with the Disney family and was recently considered for the part of Ariel in the live-action Little Mermaid adaptation. Jennifer’s got the pipes, Janelle has the soul, and Kelly has to ask Beyoncé first, but she’s probably interested.
Danny Devito as Phil
And lastly, if you ever suspected that I’d dare recast Danny Devito, you don’t know me at all. This national treasure must reprise the role of Philoctetes the satyr. At 75 years old Devito is still acting and delivering incredible performances. I don’t see why this wouldn’t happen? I’m willing to bet he’s already been tapped to be Phil again, but only time (and a lot of that good Disney money) will tell.
What do you think of my Hercules casting choices? Leave a comment below with suggestions as to who you’d cast for which role and why.
Hercules is eyeing a 2023 release (with subject to change due to COVID-19).