Disney and Aladdin director Guy Ritchie are in the midst of a tedious, global search to find their lead stars. The live-action musical will be based on the hit 1992 animated film about a street kid who befriends a genie and wins the heart of princess Jasmine. Currently, the studio has invested in a casting call that expands across London, Egypt, Abu Dhabi, and India. Despite auditioning around 2,000 actors and actresses for the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine, the search has proven to be a major disappointment for Disney.
Finding a male lead in his 20s who can sing and act has been quite cumbersome, considering Disney wants someone who is of Middle-Eastern or Indian descent. (The original animated film was set in the fictional Middle Eastern city of Agrabah.) This news seems a bit odd, considering Bollywood is entirely built around actors and actresses who act, sing, and dance on the regular.
Although production was expected to begin by July, the search continues to drag on. According to the agent of a client who tested for the ambitious project, “The test process was a mess.”
Disney and Ritchie previously expressed interest in Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed for the lead role, but have now chosen to find a newcomer. For the part of Jasmine, the studio is considering Power Rangers star Naomi Scott or Indian actress Tara Sutaria. However, an official offer will not be extended until the male lead has been selected since chemistry is such an integral part of the story.
Will Smith has already signed on to play the Genie, and another well-known star is currently being hunted for the role of Jafar.
To help move things along, Disney has brought on two movie-musical veterans to consult during the casting process: Marc Platt, who worked on Disney’s forthcoming Mary Poppins Returns, and Chris Montan, who served as an executive music producer on Disney’s Pocahontas, Toy Story, Hercules, and Frozen.
Despite the lengthy casting process, the live-action remake of Aladdin could prove to be promising. In fact, Disney has a lot of experience with extensive casting searches — the most notable examples being Lily James as Cinderella and Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. According to insiders, the studio is fine with delaying Aladdin since it is determined to get the casting right for both of the beloved characters.
Let’s just hope they can do justice to the story!
Are you excited for the live-action Aladdin or are you fully satisfied with the animated version? Hit the comments to dish and discuss all your unfiltered feelings.