Backlash brews over live-action Aladdin remake casting

Ben Arnold
Aladdin casting… is getting criticised by fans – Credit: Getty

Disney announced over the weekend that it has found its new Aladdin and Princess Jasmine for the Guy Ritchie-directed live-action remake.

The Canadian actor Mena Massoud and British actress Naomi Scott are set to take on the roles, with Will Smith now officially confirmed as voicing the Genie – immortalised by Robin Williams in the 1992 original.

However, there’s already frustration brewing at the casting choices.

(Credit: Disney)

Massoud, who has a handful of TV and movie credits under his belt, was born in Egypt, and raised in Canada, while Scott was born in London to a British father and a mother from Gujarati Indian descent.

However, if Disney thought that would be enough to combat accusations of ‘white-washing’ the cast, it may have to think again.

A backlash already appears to be brewing over the fact that Scott may have Indian heritage, but is still British, and not from an Arabic background – Aladdin being an Arabic tale and all that.

Kajal Magazine in India, meanwhile, has proffered that ‘just because Aladdin is casting a brown lead, doesn’t mean it’s not racist’.

“In order to have a movie that lets young brown kids find value in our own cultures, instead of being reduced to two-dimensional versions of ourselves, we require specificity about our countries, cities, even the small hidden spaces of our communities,” writes Fatima Zehra.

“Equally importantly, these movies about us need to be made by us, and maybe if more were, we would have access to more lead actors who look like us, too.”

Rumours emerged earlier this month suggesting that Disney was struggling to find leads for the movie, based on the ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ tale.

One agent told The Hollywood Reporter that ‘the test process was a mess’.

The movie is set to start shooting next month, with a release date yet to be confirmed.

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