Will Smith will play the all-powerful genie, originally voiced by Robin Williams, in the upcoming live-action version of Aladdin. Since filming for Aladdin kicked off today in London, Will treated the public to the first behind-the-scenes photo (seen below) of the cast. In the photo, you can see Will Smith smiling with Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and Marwan Kenzari, all of whom are smiling brightly and pointing at the camera.
“We just started shooting Aladdin and I wanted to intro you guys to our new family… Mena Massoud/Aladdin, Naomi Scott/Princess Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari/Jafar, and I’m over here gettin my Genie on. Here we go!” wrote Smith.
One person who was not pictured is Billy Magnussen, a recent add-on to the cast. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Billy Magnussen was cast to play Prince Ander, a brand new character who will act as a romantic rival to Aladdin’s alter-ego, Prince Ali.
Since that news broke, some users on social media have expressed their disappointment that producers deviated from the source material to add a white character who wasn’t originally in the animated film. Some are even questioning whether Billy Magnussen should step down from the film out of principle like Ed Skrein, who had been cast in Hellboy, recently did.
This isn’t the first casting decision that has resulted in pushback from the public either. Half-British and half-Indian actress Naomi Scott’s addition to the cast has not been well received.
The 1992 animated film is set in the fictional kingdom of Agrabah, a “pastiche of the Middle East and South Asia” according to the Huffington Post. The names Jasmine and Aladdin are of Arabic origin, and many want the ethnicities of the actors to reflect that.
It’s been widely reported that finding the perfect actors to portray Aladdin and Jasmine was challenging for casting directors. While they finally found Mena Massoud, who is Egyptian-Canadian, to portray Aladdin, some people feel that the casting directors settled with Naomi Scott, who may be biracial but is not Middle Eastern, to play Princess Jasmine.
The addition of Billy Magnussen hasn’t helped the negative press already surrounding the film, which has yet to secure a release date.
Does Will Smith’s photo make you excited about Aladdin? Are you upset about the addition of Billy Magnussen to the film? You can sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]