Amidst controversy concerning Hollywood white-washing movies, Disney is taking its time to cast the lead roles in one of the most iconic animated Disney films of all time, Aladdin. That being said, Disney’s choice to play the role of Princess Jasmine has reportedly been whittled down to two: Power Ranger’s Naomi Scott and Indian actress Tara Sutaria.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Disney is seemingly struggling to find actors to be cast in the lead roles of the title character Aladdin and his love interest Princess Jasmine. After a worldwide casting call, Aladdin director Guy Ritchie, casting director Randi Hiller, and the studio have yet to find their street urchin. The studio has reportedly narrowed their choice to two actors for the role of Princess Jasmine, the aforementioned Naomi Scott and Tara Sutaria.
Of course, with movies such as Matt Damon’s The Great Wall, Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s The Prince of Persia being accused of white-washing, Disney wants to make sure that they get the cast right. The studio has been so meticulous in their search, in fact, that the live-action musical remake of Aladdin is almost certainly going to miss its targeted 2018 release date.
Screenrant reports that Guy Ritchie assured that Aladdin will have an “authentic voice” and has promised that the live-action musical remake will not cast Caucasian male for the lead role. While this news is certainly a step in the right direction and a step away from white-washing controversy, it doesn’t mean that Disney’s casting struggles are over. And of course, the moment that Disney locks in their choices, the next step is to make the movie as authentic, and as close to the studio’s original animated musical film which is as iconic as they come.
Ask any person who grew up in the 1990’s about a movie scene involving a romantic date on a magic carpet ride while singing to the tune of “A Whole New World” and close to 100 percent of them can identify which movie that scene came from. And ask them to sing a few bars of that song and they can probably sing the whole song! That was how big the original Aladdin movie was, and still is.
Filipino talent and Broadway star Lea Salonga, who incidentally was the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award, sang the iconic song “A Whole New World” with Brad Kane. This song is so popular that people still remember it 20 years later, and Salonga still performs it in her concerts, often picking a random audience to sing a duet with her!
That being said, Naomi Scott and Tara Sutaria have to step up their game to make sure that they can live up to expectation, musically at the very least. Also, Scott and Sutaria have to remember that they are set to portray a feisty, independent, and empowered woman that seems to be a common theme for Disney princesses these days.
Gone were the days that a princess has to play the damsel in distress and just have to look pretty to play the part. That’s where the casting for Aladdin seems to be having some problems. While Scott and Sutaria may be able to pull a Princess Jasmine, the film’s Aladdin is still missing. Names including Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Chappie) and Riz Ahmed (Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, The Night Of) have been linked to the role but the studio is reportedly still looking for a newcomer. The newcomer actors still in the hunt for the title role include Achraf Koutet, Mena Massoud, and George Kosturos.
Of course, an Aladdin movie would not be complete without Genie who was voiced by the great Robin Williams in the 1992 Disney movie. Will Smith and Kevin Hart have been linked to play the role of Genie in the live-action musical adaptation of Aladdin, while Tom Hardy has also been linked to the role of Jafar, the main antagonist in the movie.
[Featured Image By Chris Pizzello/AP Images]