With the success of live action adaptations of popular Disney stories like The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, filmmakers are looking to Aladdin as another live-action smash hit. Although there were talks for the Genie in the beloved Will Smith, it still needed an Aladdin and Jasmine. Well, the search is over for the leads. At D23 Expo on Saturday, it was announced that Canadian actor and relative unknown Mena Massoud will be playing Aladdin with Power Rangers star Naomi Scott set to portray Jasmine.
Apparently, the casting process was pretty extensive. A months-long search was conducted which included stationing casting directors in multiple countries and testing over 2,000 actors for the roles. Big names like Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed were considered for the coveted role, but ultimately Disney decided on a lesser-known actor.
Massoud was born in Egypt and raised in Canada where he grew up in Toronto, Ontario and studied Theatre and Acting at Ryerson University. The young actor appeared in the TeenNick series Open Heart and is part of the cast of Amazon’s Jack Ryan series starring The Office‘s John Krasinski. He also did voice work for the video game Watch Dogs 2.
Scott is a British-Indian actress and singer. Besides playing Kimberly Hart in the aforementioned Power Rangers, she’s also appeared in the film The 33 and the Fox series Terra Nova. Her nationality is creating controversy with some fans asserting that a young Arab actress should’ve been cast.
Disney still needs a Jafar for the film and they’re currently searching for an actor to play the villain who will most likely be played by an established star. They’re also looking for actors to play the Sultan and Jafar’s sidekick, Iago.
Dan Lin, who worked with Ritchie on Sherlock Holmes, is producing via his Lin Pictures banner, with Jonathan Eirich acting as executive producer. Producer Marc Platt, who worked on Disney’s upcoming Mary Poppins Returns, and Chris Montan, a longtime executive music producer for Disney’s animated projects, from Pocahontas to Frozen, are both consulting on the project.
Aladdin is set to begin shooting this August in London with Guy Ritchie directing.
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