Aladdin, the latest Disney classic adaptation from animation to live-action is facing some troubles finding its leading role. Director Guy Ritichie launched a massive global search to find actors to portray the lead roles, Aladdin and Jasmine, but things aren’t going well. The studio wants someone of Middle-Eastern or Indian descent who can both act and sing. More than 2,000 actors have read for the role of Aladdin, but none have won over the casting directors.
Originally production was slated to begin this month (July), but that’s looking more and more like it’s not going to happen with the search dragging on and Ritchie and Disney having to go back to the drawing board several times. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that there were several rounds of testing in London, with some actors coming in for up to two weeks at a time. The source called the process “a mess.”
The studio has shown interest in Dev Patel (Lion), and Riz Ahmed (Rogue One) as the lead, but it is more likely the role will go to a newcomer for Aladdin. Sources say the studio likes Power Rangers actress Naomi Scott, or Indian actress Tara Sutaria, for the role of Jasmine, but don’t want to commit to either until the male lead has been chosen since chemistry is so important to the story. Will Smith is signed on to play the Genie, and sources tell THR that the studio wants a big name for the role of the villain Jafar, which Tom Hardy was rumored to be up for.
The fact that this is taking so long could be a good sign. Disney has had success with previous casting searches like Lily James as Cinderella to Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Shooting for Aladdin is now planned to start in August, so Disney may soon need to find a genie of their own to make their casting wishes come true.