It was a huge weekend for Disney fans over the weekend as the D23 Expo revealed all things from the Star Wars, Marvel Studios and Pixar camps. One tidbit that has got tongues wagging (for better or worse) is the casting of Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie for the live-action remake of Aladdin.
Disney have taken a plunge on a virtually unknown actor for the titular role, almost guaranteeing Mena Massoud a springboard to stardom. Joining Massoud will be Naomi Scott who most people will recognise as Kimberly from this year Power Rangers reboot. And filling the role of the Genie is Will Smith. Despite Smith’s comedic chops and impressive resume, he now has the unenviable task of following the late Robin Williams footsteps after his iconic and much loved turn in the 1992 animated film.
Controversy has emerged following the announcement, due to Naomi Scott’s heritage. The casting of the British born actress, whose mother is Gujarati Indian, has sparked outrage due to the belief that Jasmine would be played by someone of Arab descent. Aladdin is set in the fictional city of Agrabah but it is widely accepted that it is located in the Middle East.
Aladdin will be directed by Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) and is scheduled for a 2018 release.