Peter Pan and Wendy, Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of its beloved 1953 animated classic (itself based on J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy) has found its Mr. Smee. The Wrap is reporting that Jim Gaffigan will be playing the iconic sidekick to Captain Hook (in this version played by Jude Law). Disney’s original animated Mr. Smee was played memorably by Bill Thompson, a voice actor whose notable Disney credits also include Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty and The Aristocats. Hopefully Gaffigan already has his striped shirt picked out.
Gaffigan will join an admittedly wonderful cast that already includes Alexander Molony (as Peter Pan) and Ever Anderson (as Wendy), along with Alyssa Wapanatâhk (as Tiger Lily) and Yara Shahidi (Tinker Bell). He joins an accomplished list of perfomers who have played Smee, as well, including Thompson, Bob Hoskins (in Steven Spielberg’s high concept Hook and the 2011 miniseries Neverland), Richard Briars (in 2003’s underrated Peter Pan), Adeel Akhtar (in 2015’s Pan) and Chris Gauthier (on ABC’s long-running, Disney-produced Once Upon a Time).
This new take on the material seems to be pretty classic in its approach (no “Peter Pan is a streetwise Manhattan detective” or anything), although it’s unclear whether any of the original songs will be present in the film or if they’ll be scrapped a la the recent Mulan. (“What Makes the Red Man Red” should probably be avoided altogether.) Peter and Wendy is directed by David Lowery, whose Pete’s Dragon remains the very best of the recent array of Disney live-action remakes. (Lowery also recently directed The Green Knight for A24 which is one of our most anticipated movies of 2021.) This new take is co-written by Toby Halbrooks and produced by Jim Whitaker and Joe Roth (who used to be Disney’s studio chief following Jeffrey Katzenberg’s tempestuous departure in the mid 1990s).
Back at the Disney Investor Day in December, it was announced that Peter and Wendy would be headed to the company’s direct-to-consumer streaming platform Disney+ instead of getting a traditional theatrical release like other live-action remakes (like Aladdin, Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast, etc.) The exact release is to be determined, with production slated to begin this March (it was originally meant to be last April). And Gaffigan’s casting makes us even more excited about what was already a very tantalizing prospect.