Learning the lessons of Ghost in the Shell, the Walt Disney Company is taking great pains to secure culturally appropriate leads for their upcoming remakes of Aladdin and Mulan. For the latter, Disney is looking to mainland China to find a young woman to play the fierce warrior of myth of legend, but presently, it’s the former movie that’s giving Disney the more difficulty. A worldwide search is underway to find an Aladdin and a Jasmine for the upcoming Guy Ritchie adaptation, but finding a young, talented and photogenic couple of Arab descent, it seems, is easier said than done.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ritchie and Disney launched a global star search back in March and got over 2,000 responses, casting a net alway around the world from “London to Egypt to Abu Dhabi and India.” So how did it go? “The test process was a mess,” says one agent that represents one of the testees. How big a mess though? To put it this way, production was expected to begin on the film sometime this month, but it’s a little hard to shoot Aladdin when you don’t have an Aladdin. Apparently the studio was interested in a name actor like Dev Patel or Riz Ahmed playing titular role, but the focus for the production seems to be on finding someone more unknown.
As for Jasmine, it’s said that Disney is looking at one of two actress, the Pink Power Ranger Naomi Scott or Indian actress Tara Sutaria, but the studio can’t make a final call on who will play Jasmine until they short list some Aladdin candidates and screen test them together. It would do no one any good for Aladdin and Jasmine to get on that magic carpet and have zero chemistry together. In the meantime, Disney has secured Will Smith to play the new version of the Genie (stepping into the magic lamp for the late Robin Williams), and the studio is searching for another name actor to play the villain Jafar.
Hey, it’s not like there’s a lot of money riding on this, Beauty and the Beast only made $1.3 billion worldwide… We’ll have more details on this project as they become available.