The controversy surrounding Guy Ritchie’s live-action Aladdin seems to see no end as the production has now been accused of “browning up” extras.
Disney’s latest live-action remake is currently being filmed in the UK, at Surrey’s Longcross Studios, and has suffered numerous criticisms for its casting.
Now, The Sunday Times reports that an extra has witnessed white background performers lining up to be made up to look darker.
Kaushai Odedra, told the newspaper that he saw up to 20 actors waiting to have their “skin tone changed” despite the fact that there is a thriving Arab and Asian community in London just an hour away from the studio.
Imagine making a film about brown people, in Surrey England (lol) & you need brown dancers (lol), yet you still brown up white people so they get the opportunity over those struggling. Lazy And Racist Productions presents Aladdin.
— Burnt Roti Mag (@BurntRotiMag) January 7, 2018
“Disney are sending out a message that your skin colour, your identity, your life experiences amount to nothing that can’t be powdered on and washed off,” Odedra said.
The extra was on the set working as a stand-in for one of the lead actors and Disney has not denied his claim, however, they did say in a statement: “This is the most diverse cast ever assembled for a Disney live action production. More than 400 of the 500 back-ground performers were Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean and Asian.”
Judging by the movie’s IMDb page they have indeed hired numerous ethnic minorities though there are two white actors listed as “city guard.”
Last year, the Aladdin movie was accused of white-washing the character of Jasmine by hiring light-skinned, half-English and half-Indian actress Naomi Scott. Many people felt that it was an example of colourism by which lighter skinned ethnic minorities are given more opportunities than darker skinned.
The Ritchie production was also called out for casting a white actor in the supporting cast. Billy Magnusson was cast as a Prince Anders, replacing an Arab character from the original 1991 animated movie.
The titular role is being played by Mena Massoud, with Will Smith as the Genie and Jafar played by Marwan Kenzari. Nasim Pedrad will play the new character Dalia, a role created to add more women to male-dominated story.
Aladdin is set for release on May 24, 2019.