Disney Casts Live-Action Aladdin and Jasmine Following Backlash
The Genie will be played by Will Smith.
Disney has let its heart decide who to cast as its live-action Aladdin and Jasmine, and not a moment too soon.
During Saturday's D23 Expo, an annual event held for the official Disney fan club, Walt Disney Studios production president Sean Bailey announced the good news without ceremony:
"Aladdin will be played by a young actor named Mena Massoud," he stated. "Jasmine will be played by Naomi Scott."
Massoud, known for Nickelodeon series Open Heart, is somewhat of a newcomer to mainstream film whereas Scott made her big-screen debut earlier this year in Power Rangers. Massoud was born in Egypt and raised in Canada while Scott, half-Indian, was raised in the UK.
Bailey also reiterated that "the amazing Genie will be played by the equally amazing Will Smith."
Aladdin will be directed by Guy Ritchie (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows). According to Bailey, Aladdin's native city of Agrabah will be partially inspired by India, China, and the Middle East.
Bailey also hailed Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as "possibly the busiest man in show business right now," but said the studio was working on a Jungle Cruise film. Fans of Disneyland and its global counterparts will recall Jungle Cruise as the slow yet surprising ride where attendees board a boat that takes them through a jungle brimming with restless wild animals.
On Saturday afternoon, Massoud confirmed the good news, expressing excitement.
"So honored & grateful for the opportunity to help bring this magical story to life once again," he wrote. "Let's get to work! #Aladdin #Disney"
As Zimbio reported earlier in the week, Disney was having difficulty finding their Aladdin, reportedly even after auditioning 2,000-plus actors. News of this issue incited backlash, fans of the series putting together sizable lists of young stars who fit the bill, both in talent and appropriate ethnicity.
Now that that daunting task has been completed, we're expecting unbelievable sights and indescribable feelings.
Aladdin currently has no release date.