Disney's live action Aladdin finally reveals its cast
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The D23 Disney Expo has been a veritable hoard of riches, with a host of trailer releases, new Star Wars posters and behind the scenes footage, and this news that Disney’s Aladdin has finally found its lead cast!
Stories have been flying around that Disney was having trouble casting their latest live action adaptation of the cartoon classics we all know and love. Finding actors of an appropriate ethnicity seemed to be the issue, but it looks like they did the trick!
Relative newcomer Mena Massoud has been cast as Aladdin. Now, whilst you may not recognise his name or his (very handsome!) face, Massoud is set to star in the John Krasinski led Amazon series Jack Ryan. Massoud is of Egyptian descent, which fits well with the cultural influences present in the fictional Agrabah of the animated film.
Now the actress cast as Princess Jasmine you might be a little more familiar with. You’ll recognise Naomi Scott from her role as Kimberly aka the Pink Ranger in this summer’s Power Rangers reboot. She can sing too - she starred in the Disney Channel original Lemonade Mouth which involved a bunch of kids (including now-popstar Hayley Kiyoko) starting a band.
Scott is half Indian, and whilst Aladdin is often considered an Arabic folk tale, the story also has roots in South Asia, and there are plenty of South Asian cultural influences visible in the animated film too. For example, the Sultan’s palace is based on the Taj Mahal, and Jasmine’s tiger is called Raja, meaning King in Hindi.
Casting one Middle Eastern actor and one South Asian actor in the two lead roles does a lot to satisfy both groups of audiences who feel they have some cultural claim to the story — to ignore one group in favour of the other certainly would have earned Disney some backlash.
The final casting announced yesterday was that of the Genie. Who on earth could possibly fill the legendary Robin Williams’ shoes, you might wonder? Will Smith. If anyone could do it, it’s him!
We can’t wait to see these three in action in what’s sure to be a classic Guy Ritchie explosive extravaganza!
Guy Ritchie's Aladdin, is still in pre-production. Watch the trailer for the original animated film below.