Let me get this right out the way, I’m not a fan of Ariana Grande. I do think that she is a good singer though. This anti- hypothetical casting choice scared me more when I first thought of it than after really thinking about it and reviewing Grande’s work, much Taylor Swift with Fleur de Lys. However if this casting ever happen for either a movie, musical or a movie musical I would be very disappointed.
Ariana Grande does have a good other all look for Esmeralda. She is of Italian decent and have dark eyes and golden tan tone to her skin. I would venture that her hair is naturally dark. So at least she has the look down.
As for acting, I’m going to be SUPER generous and say the court is still out in this one. Aside from her Broadway working and playing herself her only big role was on Nickelodeon’s Victorious. In the same vein as Disney shows type of show are very hard to gauge a person true acting talent. Grande’s character Cat Valentine is an idiot, I once heard her character describe as a hot Ralph Wiggum. Maybe she is capable of acting, maybe she would be awful.
However one of the big issue I have with Grande for the role of Esmeralda is her image, her persona. It’s a weird combo of sexy and childish, which maybe is perfect for Esmeralda in the eyes of the people who have never read the book or miss the point of her character. The actress/singer who plays Esmeralda should come off sexy without really being aware that she is in fact attracting attention. Grande also seems not super genuine in her persona, it doesn’t feel natural to her. So her as Esmeralda would be a mess as Esmeralda is naturally sexy but unaware of her appeal and Grande forces it on her viewers. Then again Esmeralda has been written as more in charge of her sexual powers before and I’m sure will be again and maybe Grande is a better actress than Victorious made her out to be.
In someways this wouldn’t be the worst casting option available but far from ideal. Though if they ever made a pop star laden movie version of Notre Dame de Paris seeing Ariana Grande and Taylor swift in would be like some kind of wrapped miracle. Maybe they could just cover He is shining like the Sun together that would be something, good or bad, it would be a sight.