On Saturday at D23 Expo, Disney made a lot of announcements in their live action presentation, including looks at films from Disney, Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios. Among those announcements were the reveal of some big details for Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of Aladdin.
During the presentation, Sean Baily revealed the cast of the upcoming live-action movie, including who would be filling the roles of Genie, Aladdin and Jasmine. The cast announcement comes following some reports that the studio was having trouble finding actors for the roles, however any difficulties Disney and Ritchie may have been having have been resolved.
While we still do not have an planned release date for the Aladdin remake to debut in theaters, what we do know is that in addition to Guy Ritchie directing, John August is writing the screen play. The most exciting news, however is the cast.
While it was first reported by THR last week, it has now been confirmed that Will Smith will play Genie, taking up the role first made famous by the late Robin Williams who voiced the iconic character in both Aladdin and its sequel, Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
Naomi Scott of Power Rangers fame has been cast as Jasmine and the relatively unknown Mena Massoud has been cast as Aladdin.
The film will contain elements from both the 1992 Disney animated classic as well as the original source material, Arabian Nights, also known as One Thousand and One Nights.
Read on for everything we currently know about Disney’s Aladdin live action remake.
Photo: Twitter / @nerdyasians
Will Smith confirmed to play Genie
After months of speculation Disney confirmed that Will Smith will portray the role of Genie on Saturday.
Smith will be taking over the iconic role previously voiced by the late Robin Williams in the 1992 animated film adaptation of the Middle East-set folk tale involving a young man granted three wishes by a genie trapped in a lamp and the adventure that ensues when an evil sorcerer goes after the magical object.
THR had announced earlier this year that Smith was in talks for the musical role.
Naomi Scott cast as Princess Jasmine
Most recently seen playing the Pink Ranger in the Power Rangers reboot, actress Naomi Scott has been cast as Princess Jasmine.
Scott, who is a British actress and singer, previously appeared in the Fox series Terra Nova as well as the film The 33.
The casting of Scott, whose mother is from India, has been well-received following reports of casting issues. The BBC reported last week that filmmakers were searching for actors of Middle Eastern or Indian descent who could both sing and dance to fill the roles of Jasmine and Aladdin in the shadow of racial controversy from the 1992 animated film.
Disney did not comment on the challenges of the search.
Mena Massoud will star as Aladdin
The most surprising Aladdin casting announcement was that of Mena Massoud in the title role of Aladdin.
Egyptian-born and Canadian-raised Massoud is a relatively unknown actor with a current role in Amazon’s Jack Ryan series starring John Krasinski. Massoud previously appeared in the TeenNick series Open Heart.
However, despite being a newcomer of sorts, Massoud already had a tie of sorts to the film. In 2015, Massoud gave an interview to The Hudsucker in which the actor cited the legendary Robin Williams as the actor whose work had most inspired him.
“Robin Williams in everything he did. He was an incredibly well-rounded actor but I grew up on his role in Mrs. Doubtfire. That role by itself is very well-rounded and he goes through an amazing journey in that movie. I think it’s very underrated,” Massoud said.
The film still needs a Jafar
Despite announcing the roles of Genie, Jasmine and Aladdin, one announcement was lacking from Disney’s reveal at D23 on Saturday.
While The Sun previously reported that Ritchie was looking to cast Mad Max star Tom Hardy in the role of the villainous Jafar, no official deal has been worked out. A source told U.K. publication that Hardy, who also played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, is Ritchie’s lead choice for Jafar, though it remains to be seen if schedules will work out.
“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,” the source said. “It just depends on schedules whether he’ll be able to sign up.”
Aladdin is set to go into production in the coming months with a 2019 release expected.