Things aren’t going smoothly for the live-action remake of Disney’s beloved 1992 animated hit, “Aladdin.”
Casting for the leads, street-kid-turned-prince Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, has turned out to be more difficult than director Guy Ritchie and the movie’s casting department had anticipated, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The global casting call began in March, and though the trade reports that name actors like Dev Patel (“Lion”) and Riz Ahmed (“Rogue One”) have read for the role of Aladdin, it’s likely the role will be going to an unknown.
Around 2,000 actors and actresses have auditioned for the lead roles, but Ritchie is nowhere closer to finding his stars, though THR reports that the casting call specified that production is to begin this month. Sources tell the trade there have been numerous times the production has had to start from scratch on its casting search. “The test process was a mess,” one agent told THR about the London casting call, which had actors coming in for up to two weeks at a time.
The biggest challenge seems to be that Disney and Ritchie are looking for a 20 year old of Middle Eastern or Indian descent who can act and sing to play Aladdin (the Disney animated version took place in a fictional Middle Eastern city).
The studio has a few actresses in mind for Jasmine, but are not pulling the trigger until they can see which actress has the right chemistry with the actor they cast as Aladdin.
With the pressure toward Hollywood to tell stories with casts that are authentic to the source material, it’s not a surprise Disney is being meticulous in its casting.
Along with going back through tapes of past casting sessions to find that diamond in the rough, THR reports that Disney has brought on two movie-musical veterans to consult: Marc Platt, who along with having experience producing musicals worked on Disney’s upcoming “Mary Poppins Returns;” and Chris Montan, longtime executive music producer for Disney animated projects like “Pocahontas,” “Toy Story,” “Hercules,” and “Frozen.”
So far the only casting that seems to be a lock is Will Smith playing Genie.