Earlier this year, Disney launched a global search for the lead roles of Jasmine and Aladdin in Guy Ritchie‘s live-action adaptation of the 1992 classic Aladdin. Several casting calls were conducted in various locations including Egypt, Abu Dhabi, and India. The task proved to be a difficult one since it was later revealed that the filmmakers had to dig through the audition tapes when the first round of testing did not go as smoothly as planned.
Around 2,000 actors and actresses read for the roles of Jasmine and Aladdin. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel and Rogue One‘s Riz Ahmed were among the names considered for the role of Aladdin. The rumors of a turbulent casting process were finally put to rest during this year’s D23 Expo, with Mena Massoud beating out his fellow actors for the role of Aladdin, Power Ranger‘s Naomi Scott as Jasmine, and Will Smith filling in the iconic role of Genie.
Cast of Aladdin Remake Announced: Will Smith to Play the Late Robin William’s Genie
Disney Pictures’ Sean Bailey took the stage at D23 last Saturday morning to announce the official cast of the Aladdin remake. Among the three official cast members, Will Smith and Naomi Scott are already household names. Smith has starred in the TV series Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and several blockbuster films such as Men in Black, Independence Day, and I Am Legend. Scott, on the other hand, is best known for her lead role as Kimberly Hart in the Power Rangers remake released this year. She also starred in two Disney Channel original series, Life Bites and Lemonade Mouth.
Mena Massoud, on the other hand, is a newcomer. The 24-year-old Egyptian-Canadian actor has only a few acting projects under his belt, including the television series Jack Ryan. In a crazy twist of fate, Massoud did mention in an old interview that it was Robin Williams, the original voice-over actor for Genie, who inspired him to pursue acting.
Now that the cast of Aladdin remake has been confirmed, shooting for the live-action adaptation of the iconic animated film is set to begin in London next month, although details about the other main roles such as the villain Jafar, Iago, and the monkey Abu are yet to be revealed. The upcoming remake is part of Disney’s grand plan to recreate its timeless classics. Other upcoming films include The Lion King, Mulan, Dumbo, and The Sword in the Stone.