Will Smith and friends are set to take us to a whole new world.
Cameras are now rolling on ‘Aladdin,’ Disney’s live-action take on their 1992 animated hit, with director Guy Ritchie calling the shots, and the famed 48-year old Smith taking over from the late Robin Williams as the Genie.
To mark the occasion, Smith posted a selfie with his co-stars on Facebook, remarking, “We just started shooting Aladdin and I wanted to intro you guys to our new family… Mena Massoud/Aladdin, Naomi Scott/Princess Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari/Jafar, and I’m over here gettin my Genie on. Here we go!”
This is the first photo of the assembled main cast of ‘Aladdin,’ and we can see what looks to be a small corner of the Agrabah set in the background.
While the cast are all smiles here, ‘Aladdin’ hasn’t necessarily had the easiest start, with rumours of trouble behind the scenes, particularly regarding the casting process, with Disney and Ritchie initially struggling to find suitable Arabic/Asian actors, before settling on Massound, Scott and Kenzari.
The film has recently prompted another wave of criticism with the news that an all-new white character – Prince Anders, played by Billy Magnussen – has been created specifically for the live-action version. This comes on top of complaints that ‘Power Rangers’ star Scott (an English actress of Indian descent) was inappropriate casting for Jasmine.
Iran-born actress and comedienne Nasim Pedrad is also set to play an all-new character in ‘Aladdin,’ portraying Dalia, a handmaiden and friend to Scott’s Princess Jasmine. Navid Negahban (‘Homeland’) will play Jasmine’s father The Sultan, and Numan Acar (also from ‘Homeland’) will play another new character, Jafar’s right hand man Hakim.
Ritchie directs from a screenplay by John August, whilst the cast will perform all-new recordings of the songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice from the 1992 original, as well as two new songs by Menken and ‘La La Land’ songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
No release date has been confirmed for ‘Aladdin’ at present.