Disney fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief. After reports that the studio was having trouble casting the new live-action Aladdin, the internet got very angry. With good reason, since the movie did a worldwide casting call that included stops in India, Abu Dhabi, Egypt, and London and claimed that finding "a male lead in his 20s who can act and sing has proven difficult — especially since the studio wants someone of Middle Eastern or Indian descent." Really?
Luckily, Disney managed to turn that frown upside down at the D23 Expo on Saturday. It was there that the studio announced that Mena Massoud would play Aladdin. It was also announced that Naomi Scott would play Jasmine in the new movie. For some, what's most exciting about this announcement is that Disney and the movie's director Guy Ritchie stuck to their word of hiring actors of Middle-Eastern or Indian descent. According to Entertainment Weekly, Massoud was raised in Canada but was born in Egypt, while the English-born Scott is of Gujarati Indian descent.
Yes, that seems like an easy feat, but with the whitewashing that goes on in Hollywood it's enough to make some people happy or at least not completely disappointed. (Some have pointed out that the characters in Aladdin are Arab, not Indian. Others have stated that Aladdin's setting of Agrabah was actually based on "Agra in India and Baghdad in Iraq.") Especially, since there were rumors that British actor Tom Hardy could be cast as Jafar. As of now, who will play that role hasn't been announced, but the casting of the two main roles gives hope it won't be Hardy.
Here's what we do know about the new Aladdin and its recently revealed cast.
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