The search is officially over for the lead stars in the upcoming live-action adaptation of Aladdin. After a lengthy casting process, Disney has tapped Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott to portray Aladdin and Princess Jasmine in the upcoming retelling of the classic fairytale.
News about the Aladdin movie cast was confirmed at the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center in California on July 15, Friday. Earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Disney was struggling to find its Aladdin even after launching a worldwide casting call for the role.
It was said that while Disney was interested in Riz Ahmed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and Dev Patel (Lion), the studio and Aladdin director Guy Ritchie wanted to cast a newcomer for the titular lead. Sources said they were already eyeing Power Rangers actress Naomi Scott and Indian actress Tara Sutaria to play Jasmine, but couldn’t secure the role until they found an actor to play Aladdin since chemistry between the pair is crucial to the story.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Mena Massoud is a Canadian actor and currently appears on the new Amazon series Jack Ryan. He also starred in the TV series Open Heart and Saving Hope. Disney was particularly looking for an actor of Middle-Eastern or Indian descent, an Massoud perfectly fits the bill as he has Egyptian roots. Scott, on the other hand, is of Indian descent.
Disney made it clear that they were looking for actors who could both sing and act, as the live-action Aladdin movie will be every bit a musical as its animated counterpart. While Scott has a singing credit to her name for appearing in Disney’s teen musical film Lemonade Mouth, no similar information is readily available for Massoud.
Will Smith completes the main Aladdin movie cast as Genie. Variety reported that Smith had been eyeing a family-friendly film as his next project, after appearing in mostly adult dramas and action films such as Suicide Squad and Collateral Beauty last year. He initially took interest in taking on the lead role in Dumbo, but later backed out due to scheduling conflicts.
In the original animated version of Aladdin, which came out in 1992, Genie was famously voiced by the late Robin Williams.
There’s no word yet as to which actor will join the Aladdin cast as Jafar. However, reports suggest Ritchie is considering Tom Hardy to play the film’s main antagonist since he is a huge fan of the actor’s work.
“There have been conversations and, although nothing is set in stone and things are subject to change, he’s certainly one of Guy’s favored choices,” a source revealed to The Sun.
Jafar is the Royal Vizier of Agrabah who is bent on taking over the kingdom by exploiting Genie’s magic.
The Aladdin movie was originally slated to begin production in July, but the start of filming has been moved to August due to casting delays. Big Fish scribe John August wrote the script for the Aladdin movie. Dan Lin, who worked with Ritchie in the two Sherlock Holmes movies, is producing Aladdin. Jonathan Eirich is executive producing.
Lin said the live-action Aladdin movie will be an ambitious and nontraditional take on the original source material. The retelling is expected to keep the musical elements from the animated version.
The 1992 Aladdin movie plot was derived from the Arabic folk tale about a young man given three wishes by a genie after releasing it from a lamp. It was the highest-grossing movie of the year in 1992 and received an Academy Award for Best Score and Best Song, the latter for “A Whole New World”.
[Featured Image by YTV Canada]