Disney Can’t Seem to Find Actors for Guy Ritchie’s Live-Action ‘Aladdin’
Disney has several live-action remakes in development, but two titles in particular have attracted a little extra attention: Aladdin and Mulan. Although pop culture is becoming increasingly socially conscious, Hollywood’s unfortunate history of whitewashing has left many (rightfully) concerned over the casting for both of these films, especially since the studio behind them doesn’t exactly have the best track record with diversity. And while Disney has made it clear that they’re committed to casting actors of relevant ethnicity in Aladdin and Mulan, a new report reveals that the studio is struggling to do so for at least one of those projects.
THR has a fairly detailed update on Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin, which was originally scheduled to begin production next month with Guy Ritchie at the helm. According to the report, production has now been delayed to August as Disney has yet to find its two leads despite an extensive international casting search that began back in March. Since then, the studio has had casting agents in London, Egypt, Abu Dhabi and India on the lookout for actors of Middle Eastern or Indian descent who are also capable of singing and possibly dancing.
Over the past few months 2,000 actors and actresses have read for the roles of Aladdin and his love interest, Princess Jasmine. Disney reportedly considered both Riz Ahmed (Rogue One) and Dev Patel (Lion) for the part of Aladdin, but ultimately decided it was best to go with newcomers for the lead roles and cast bigger-name stars as Genie and the villainous Jafar. Will Smith has officially signed on to play Genie, a role previously made iconic by the late Robin Williams in the 1992 animated film.
As for Jasmine, Disney is currently considering Indian actress Tara Sutaria and Naomi Scott, an English actress of Indian heritage who starred in this year’s Power Rangers movie. Because it’s imperative for the two leads to have great chemistry, the studio is hesitant to make an offer to either actress until they’ve found the right Aladdin. The most recent names under consideration for the part were Achraf Koutet, Mena Massoud, and George Kosturos, but it seems that none of them were completely satisfactory for the producers, who are going through all of the audition tapes again in the hopes of finding the perfect performer.
It’s not an impossible task, though the studio’s struggle to find leads from relevant ethnic backgrounds is a little mystifying. Meanwhile, Disney remains similarly committed to finding Chinese actors for their live-action remake of Mulan, which has The Zookeeper’s Wife director Niki Caro attached to helm. The studio’s live-action remakes have been hugely successful thus far, and if Disney wants to continue that winning streak with Aladdin and Mulan, they’re going to have to find actors of relevant heritage — or scrap these projects entirely.