A whole new world is opening up for Disney, and it’s coming in the form of Mena Massoud.
A lot happened this past weekend at D23. Stan Lee, Oprah Winfrey, and Mark Hamill were awarded Disney Legends, new footage of Avengers: Infinity War and Kingdom Hearts III was revealed, and they even revealed a new Star Wars theme park opening at Disney Land.
However, of all of these developments, perhaps none was more major than the casting announcement for Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Aladdin. After reportedly struggling to cast the title role for more than four months, Disney announced that Canadian actor Mena Massoud was cast as Aladdin, Naomi Scott was cast as Jasmine, and Will Smith was cast as Genie.
This casting news is significant for quite a few reasons. First of all, with Massoud being of Egyptian descent and Scott being of Indian descent, they both physically fit the profiles perfectly for Aladdin and Jasmine alike. Considering more than half of Hollywood films are whitewashed (See Ghost In The Shell, Prince of Persia, Argo, etc.), it’s refreshing to see Disney expanding upon diversity while at the same time staying true to the source material.
Also, you’ve probably never heard of Massoud or Scott outside of this announcement. That’s because Disney specifically aimed for lesser-known talent for their leads, and Massoud and Scott have both had limited exposure in the industry. Massoud was most known for playing a supporting role in the 2015 mystery series “Open Heart”, while Scott was most known for portraying the Pink Ranger in this year’s Power Rangers. Seeing Disney give these breakout stars a shot like this really heartens me to the future of their live-action remakes, showing that not only are they expanding on their ethnic representation, but also on their talent as well.
Still don’t know how I feel about Will Smith playing the Genie though. If he doesn’t break it down and perform a rap like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Arabia” or something, I’m going to be extremely disappointed.
What do you guys think? Are you excited for Disney’s casting announcement, or do you want to rub the magic lamp so you can wish this development away? Comment below, let me know.
– David Dunn
SOURCE: Variety, Access Hollywood