Disney has been having a ridiculous amount of success with their recent live-action adaptations of animated classics. They are currently working on a live-action version of Aladdin, but they have hit a bit of a speed bump. Actually, it’s a pretty huge speed bump. According to a new report, the studio and director Guy Ritchie are having a really tough time locking down a lead actor for the role of Aladdin after seeing more than 2,000 auditions so far.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that the Mouse House is currently searching far and wide for their new Aladdin, but it hasn’t been going well. They are committed to casting someone of middle-eastern or Indian descent in the full-blown musical, which is good for those who have been angry about white-washing in some Hollywood movies. But since they need someone who can sing and act, they have had a reportedly really rough time locking down just the right actor. Even after looking at big up-and-comers like Dev Patel (Lion) and Riz Ahmed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Here’s what THR has to say about the situation.
“While the studio had interest in Dev Patel, 27, and Riz Ahmed, 34, the male lead will likely be a newcomer. Sources say the studio is eyeing Power Rangers actress Naomi Scott, 24, or Indian actress Tara Sutaria, 21, to play Jasmine, but can’t lock the deal until the male lead has been selected since chemistry is so important to the story.”
The Hollywood Reporter notes that, among the newcomers who are possibly being considered for the role of Aladdin, are Dutch actor Achraf Koutet, Canadian actor Mena Massoud and American George Kosturos. Disney has been searching for the lead since March and shooting was supposed to start this month. However, since they can’t settle on the role, the shoot is being pushed back to August. In order to help things along, Disney has brought in some musical experts. Marc Platt, who worked on Disney’s upcoming Mary Poppins Returns and Chris Montan, who has been producing Disney animated musicals like Pocahontas, Hercules and Frozen for years.
This isn’t necessarily cause for concern, though. The fact that Disney is taking their time with Aladdin shows that they understand how important it is. They have also had luck finding just the right unknown actors for roles in the past. Perhaps the best example is Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Not to mention that Beauty and the Beast is currently the highest-grossing movie of 2017. So Disney knows how to handle these adaptations.
The report also notes that, as previously reported, Will Smith has signed on to play the Genie, the role made famous by the late Robin Williams in the 1992 animated Aladdin. There is still no official word on who is going to play the villain Jafar, but Tom Hardy’s name has been thrown out recently and this new report notes that Disney wants to go with a big name for the part. So Tom Hardy would fit that. In any case, with production still hoping to get going next month on Aladdin, we should be hearing some casting confirmation relatively soon.