The live-action remake of Disney’s Aladdin is about 8 months away, and not only do we have a full cast list, but we also have some details on what the film is actually going to look like. Disney has said that the film is going to be “an ambitious and non-traditional” take on the original film, planned to be non-linear. Thankfully, they also said that much of the musical elements of the original film are being kept.
Casting call for the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine were posted worldwide, sparing no expense to find the perfect fit for the two lead roles. Production actually had to be pushed back a month due to difficulties in finding the perfect actor to portray Aladdin. Despite this avid search, the first cast member to sign on officially was Will Smith in the role of Genie. Nobody will ever be able to replace Robin Williams in our hearts, but I’m confident that Smith will be able to give a knockout performance that he would be proud of.
After much bickering, and even going back to audition tapes from previous applicants, it was decided that Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott would be playing Aladdin and Jasmine. Significant controversy arose from the decision to hire Scott, citing that her non-Arab, non Middle Eastern descent was proof of colorism. Adding on to this was the revelation from Disney that white extras were being applied brown makeup during filming in order to “blend in”.
The practice was branded “an insult to the whole industry” when it broke to the public. Disney was swift to respond to the accusations of racism that “diversity of our cast and background performers was a requirement and only in a handful of instances when it was a matter of specialty skills, safety, and control were crew made up to blend in”.
As for the music, it was stated that the original musical elements from the animated film were to be kept. In addition Alan Menken announced that he will be co-writing new songs for the film with the Oscar-winning song writers of La La Land, Pasek and Paul.