An Indian will not play Aladdin in Guy Ritchie’s upcoming live action movie, but a half-Indian has been cast as his lover Jasmine. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott have been cast as Aladdin and Jasmine. The announcement was made at the Disney expo D23 on Saturday.
The announcement follows a long hunt for actors of Middle Eastern or Indian extraction to play the lead roles. Over 2,000 actors were reportedly tested for the roles. Massoud, a Canadian actor of Egyptian origin, has appeared in several television series, including Open Heart and Jack Ryan. He has also been cast in the movie Strange But True, about a woman who finds herself pregnant five years after her boyfriend’s death.
Naomi Scott has appeared in Power Rangers Movie (2017) and the TV series Love Bites. She is half-Gujarati (her mother is a Gujarati from Uganda) and half British.
Will Smith has been cast as the Genie in the musical, which will go into production in August. The roles of the villain Jafar and his sidekick Iago are not yet been announced.
In an interview to Marie Claire, 23-year-old Scott, who is also a singer and is married to football player Jordan Spence, said she likes “a good chaat, with potato and chickpea and yogurt sauce” and adores “spinach curry”.