Live-Action Hercules: It Won’t Be A Direct Copy Of The Disney Movie

Disney is working on a live-action remake of the 1997 animated movie Hercules.

By Liana Keane | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

Disney's Hercules Live-Action remake

Disney is working on a live-action remake of the 1997 animated movie Hercules. Hercules was released at the end of Disney’s 90s resurgence, and a Hercules Live-Action movie it fits right in with the other 90s animated movies they’ve gone live action with like AladdinBeauty and the Beast, and Lion King.

This new movie will definitely be a theatrical release and not one of the upcoming slate of straight to Disney Plus releases. Given the source material, a theatrical release seems like a perfect fit.

Here’s everything we know about Disney’s live-action Hercules remake so far.

The Plot Of Disney’s Live-Action Hercules

Fans hoping this would be a direct translation of the beloved animated Hercules into live-action are going to be disappointed. Producers Joe and Anthony Russo are in charge and they say that’s not what they’re doing at all.

Instead, here’s what the Russo’s say they’re planning for this story: “Well, I think you always have to bring something new to the table because from our perspective as storytellers, it’s not compelling for us to do a literal translation. We’ve already done that with our Marvel films. We don’t do literal translations of the comics because we feel like if you want that story you can go read that story. We’re going to give you a different story. I think we’ll do something that’s in the vein of the original and inspired by it, but we also bring some new elements to the table.

The good news is that while they’re doing something different it sounds like they do really like the animated Hercules movie. They say, “Both us and our kids are Hercules fanatics. And we had heard that Disney was interested in revisiting it and we’re in love with the original. And we made a case as to why we felt we would be right to produce that film and here we are.

The People Making Hercules

Joe And Anthony Russo are producing the new Hercules for Disney. The two brothers are best known as the writers and directors of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Those are only the two biggest movies of all time.

David Callaham is writing the Hercules script for the Russos. He previously worked on The Expendables and the upcoming Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Casting Ariana Grande As Megara

GIANT FREAKIN ROBOT has exclusively heard from one of our sources who has worked with Disney in the past that Ariana Grande is now at the top of their list to be cast as Megara in the upcoming live-action Hercules movie. We haven’t gotten a scoop from this source before, but it is someone who’s a known entity and we have no reason to doubt the accuracy of their information.

While Ariana Grande hasn’t done a lot of acting recently, she does have a connection to Hercules.  She sang “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” during the recent Disney Family Sing-A-Long, a song sung by Megara in the animated Hercules.  In addition to singing the song she did her best to look the part, performing a lot of Megara’s moves and oozing her personality during the performance.

Here’s Ariana Grande’s Megara performance in case you missed it…

For comparison, here’s what Megara looked like in the 1997 Hercules…

Our source says that Ariana Grande’s performance during the Sing-a-Long went a long way towards convincing Disney execs to make her one of their top casting priorities for the live-action Hercules. Ariana’s success at pulling off Megara pushed them over the edge on something they were already considering anyway.  Whether Grande knew that going into the performance is anyone’s guess, but to us it doesn’t sound like an accident.

Ariana Grande has other prior connections to the world of Hercules. Back in 2015 she performed the song “Zero To Hero” for Disney, a song which is also from the original animated Hercules.  Here’s that performance…

These days Ariana Grande is mostly known as a musical artist, but she actually started out as an actress. She began her path to fame on the Nickelodeon series Victorious, playing the character of Cat, and later starred on a spinoff show called Sam & Cat which ended its run in 2014. 

In the 1997 Hercules animated film Megara was voiced by Susan Egan, an actress best known for originating the role of Belle in the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast. 

Casting Hades

Live-action Hades

The new live-action Hercules is still in early development but we have word on who Disney is after to play the critical role of the movie’s villain, Hades. Reportedly they want Idris Elba to star in the film as the fiery bad guy. There’s also been talk that they are also considering Benedict Cumberbatch for their family movie, but Idris Elba feels like a better fit.

Idris Elba for Disney
Idris Elba

Oddly enough both Cumberbatch and Elba have played villains in Star Trek movies. Cumberbatch was the villain of the critically panned Star Trek: Into Darkness and Elba was the bad guy of the more successful Star Trek: Beyond.

In the animated version of Hercules Hades was voiced perfectly by James Woods. Woods is now likely too old to play the part in a Hercules live-action version. Plus as an open conservative and supporter of President Trump, it’s unlikely Disney would want to have anything to do with him.

The Rest Of The Live-Action Hercules Cast

Casting Hercules is one of the most pivotal roles of the film, of course. It’s tricky because Hercules is, well, kind of big muscle-bound idiot. So it makes sense that we’re hearing Disney’s first choice for the role is Alexander Skarsgaard. He has the muscles and the physical size to make an imposing figure as the character. And while he’s often played intelligent characters, he’s also totally capable of playing an idiot.

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling

What makes less sense is Disney’s second choice for the live-action remake part: Ryan Gosling. Gosling is neither large nor normally particularly muscle bound. Also he’s made a career out of playing quiet, brooding characters… which Hercules definitely is not. I suppose he can always put on muscle but he just doesn’t have the size, or at least doesn’t seem to. Nonetheless WGTC claims Gosling is next in line for Hercules if Disney can’t get Skarsgaard.

The People Making The New Version

Jeffery Silver and Karen Gilchrist are set to produce the new movie. And as for who is directing, the extremely reliable Disney news site The Disinsider says they have a line on the names being courted by Disney to direct the new live-action Hercules.

According to their sources it sounds like Disney is heavily courting some of Marvel’s biggest directors. They’re looking at Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and the Russo Brothers (Avengers Infinity War & Endgame) as possible choices to helm the new Hercules. Additionally, Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) is said to be in consideration.

The Animated Hercules


Though it’s beloved by many the original Hercules was one of Disney’s least successful animated movies, particularly in the 90s. It only managed to make around $250 million at the box office. By comparison The Lion King, released three-years earlier, made nearly a billion dollars. Even Mulan, released the very next year, managed $300 million.

The fact that Hercules underperformed in animated form could just mean there’s plenty of opportunity here to improve on it. Many elements of the original are beloved, if Disney can keep those elements and freshen up some of the ones that didn’t work as well, they could potentially achieve something both new and special. It’s easy to improve on a movie like Hercules, it’s tough to improve on something like The Lion King.