Following the critical and box offices successes of Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, it’s no surprise that Disney is planning to remake even more of their animated classics. The studio has over ten live-action films planned and Aladdin is one of them.
The original animated feature came out in 1992, and told the story of a young peasant boy in the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah, who finds a magic lamp with a Genie inside, who offers to grant him three wishes. The new version will see Guy Ritchie direct a screenplay from Big Fish writer John August, and they promise to deliver a “highly-energized” musical that will do justice to Disney’s first Aladdin film.
Though Ritchie's most recent big-budget revival, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, didn't do much to win over critics or audiences, the director has a strong track record that includes the action-oriented blockbusters Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, so many are keen to see what he can bring to the table for Aladdin. Here’s everything we know about the live-action remake so far.
The original Aladdin (directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who recently collaborated on Moana) featured the voices of white actors, despite the fact that all of the characters were of Arabian descent. Producer Dan Lin – who most recently worked on The Lego Batman Movie – made it very clear that the cast of the live-action film will be authentic and feature an ethnically-accurate cast. “I am diverse,” he told Collider, “so when I come to make the movie, I want to make a diverse version of the movie.” Guy Ritchie has also confirmed that his Aladdin film “will have its own authentic voice,” which suggests that he’s looking to fill the cast with Middle Eastern actors. The production has already held auditions in the United Arab Emirates, and the casting notice specifically required those auditioning for the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine to be Middle Eastern.
ALADDIN AND JASMINE WILL BE PLAYED BY RELATIVE UNKNOWNS
As well as the UAE, Disney has held open auditions in the United States and London in order to find the two leads. American actor Armani Salado (of Dominican and Persian descent) is in the running to play Aladdin after having had two auditions - one with casting director Lucinda Syson and another with Disney’s Head of Casting Randi Hiller. “I had to do a singing piece along with a sheet and a half of lines from the script,” Salado told ScreenRant. “It was exhilarating. I haven’t done a screen test yet but they aren’t even that far into the casting process yet so fingers crossed.”
Elsewhere, Mory Hatem, the Lebanese star of The Voice Arabia, confirmed that he had auditioned for the lead role after being contacted by Disney to audition, according to Arab News. There was also the suggestion that British actor Luke Pasqualino (Skins) had been approached to play Aladdin, but considering he’s of Italian descent it seems unlikely that he’d be cast.
There’s not been much confirmed about possible actresses auditioning to play Jasmine, but one British pop star has been linked to the role. Jade Thirlwall of the girl group Little Mix is reportedly in talks to play the Disney princess, despite having no acting credits so far. According to British tabloid, The Sun, the 24-year-old “is delighted to have got this far in the process and the talks have been going on for some time now.” Thirlwall certainly has an excellent singing voice going for her, and is of Yemeni and Egyptian descent, but whether she’s got the acting chops is certainly another story.
We came up with a few Aladdin casting suggestions too.