[Update: the full Aladdin cast has finally been revealed. You can check it out here.]
Are you ready for more Disney magic?
On Wednesday, Will Smith shared the first behind-the-scenes cast photo from the upcoming live-action Aladdin, so clearly production is in full-swing (yay). The photo features Smith (who takes over as the beloved Genie), as well as relative newcomer Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Princess Jasmine), and Marwan Kenzari (the villainous Jafar).
Looking good, guys.
The first cast photo comes on the heels of several reported roadblocks for the film. For starters, Guy Ritchie seemed to have had way too much trouble finding actors who could sing and dance — and were also of Middle Eastern or Indian decent. According to reports, the testing process was also "a mess." In July, the film finally pinned down Mena Massoud, a Canadian Egyptian, as Aladdin, and Naomi Scott, a woman of British and Indian heritage, for the role of Jasmine. The two casting choices did not sit well with fans.
This brings me to more recent news: On Wednesday, Disney announced that Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods) will star as Prince Anders, an entirely new role created for the musical. He's currently the first white actor cast in the film. (Slashfilm dove into the implications of his casting.)
To be honest, I'm not sure how to feel about all of this, the new casting photo included. My child self wants me to be excited about this film, but adult me knows live-action Aladdin will continue to be a controversial mess. Sigh, thoughts?