Disney’s live-action remake of their classic animation Aladdin (1992) has been the source of a lot of press speculation and online criticism over the past week or so, something Disney have taken steps towards rectifying at their annual D23 convention by finally announcing their casting choices for central characters Aladdin and Jasmine.
Mena Massoud (from Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Jack Ryan’) and Power Rangers star Naomi Scott have been cast as Aladdin and Jasmine respectively, with Disney also confirming that Will Smith will play the Genie.
Industry professionals and Aladdin fans alike had rallied to have the central characters be played by actors of middle-eastern descent given the original’s clear indicators and homages to that particular area of the world in their animation of the fictional land of Agrabah. In Massoud and Scott, Disney have cast actors of Egyptian and Indian heritage respectively, calming fears of a live-action “white-washing”.
The news confirms that after 2,000 reported auditionees, director Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes) has made true on his promise of casting relative unknowns in the movie’s two central roles, with Massoud having only appeared in one feature-length release despite gaining prominence on television and Scott only recently shooting into the public eye via her role as the pink ranger in Power Rangers (2017).
Interestingly, Naomi Scott’s career as an actress has coincided with a career in music, offering promise to her rendition of the movie’s iconic central number “A Whole New World”.
Disney’s remake of Aladdin will be just one of several big budget live-action remakes of their beloved animated properties over the coming years, the studio giant looking to reignite interest in properties that have long been cornerstones of the brand, whether that be on the screen or at the theme parks.
There is currently no official release date confirmed for this picture.