[UPDATE #2: EW's sources are now confirming that yes, Rajah will appear in the live-action Aladdin.]
Disney's live-action take on Aladdin will make Jasmine a multi-dimensional character with a bigger journey and more female characters to interact with, but sadly no tiger. Guy Ritchie is tackling the latest live-action remake from Disney's animated library, and there will be quite a few changes from the animated version. In the process of adapting the animated classic into a full feature-length blockbuster, Disney will add and change elements of the story and characters - just like they've done with The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast.
These changes will only be made to improve upon what came before, but Disney made sure to keep familiar elements like the music and also cast appropriately, so the film was not whitewashed. In doing so, Power Rangers star Naomi Scott landed the female lead as Jasmine, and she's teasing how the live-action Aladdin changes her character for the better.
THR spoke to Scott about her biggest role yet as the princess of Agrabah. Jasmine is a major character in the original animated film, but the live-action take will give her a much richer story for Scott to explore. As Scott herself explained, this version is a multidimensional character with a better arc:
I love what Disney is doing at the moment with their princesses — going from animation to live-action and making those animated characters real human beings. Being a female character is also about being a real person, and guess what? [She] can be strong and have fun, but also get it wrong and be emotional. She’s a multidimensional woman, and she doesn’t have to just be one thing. So in this movie, you see her go on such a roller coaster, as opposed to her one goal being to fall in love or get married.
Not only will Jasmine be a fully fleshed out character this time around, but the live-action take is also making one other significant change to the source material. THR confirmed that this movie will not feature Jasmine's pet tiger Rajah, and instead will see Nasim Pedrad's character Dalia step in as her best friend and the one Jasmine can have life changing discussions with:
I never realized it, but in the animation, Jasmine is really the only female character — isn’t that crazy? The Dalia character is so important to this movie because she’s the only other female character. She may be the handmaiden but they’re best friends; they’re so close because they’ve grown up together. So we wanted people to watch the movie and see Jasmine’s relationship with another woman, and be like, ‘Ah, that’s what I’m like with my girlfriend,’ or ‘We would so do that if I was in that position.’ That’s something that’s missing from the animation.
Rajah winds up being involved throughout the story in the animated version, but it is easy to see why this change was made. Scott correctly points out that the original film is sorely lacking in female characters. Rajah does continue to pop up throughout the movie, but his biggest purpose is for Jasmine to have someone to talk to. Instead of talking to a tiger and spending the money to include a CGI version, giving Jasmine an actual female best friend is a no-brainer.
How well this change will work remains to be seen, but Scott teases the chemistry between her and Pedrad is off the charts so far. This will hopefully translate to the screen and be part of a bigger role for Jasmine in the live-action adaption. After all, with more and more movies offering better roles to female characters, it is great to see Disney make a concerted effort to make Jasmine much more than a love interest.
UPDATE: THR has now updated its original article to clarify that Raja's omission from the live-action version of Aladdin is widely assumed, but has not yet been confirmed.
Update Source: EW
- Aladdin (2019) release date: May 24, 2019