Disney Has Trouble Casting ‘Aladdin,’ But The Excuse Is Unacceptable According To Twitter Users
Disney is reportedly struggling to find actors to fill the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine in the live-action remake of the animated classic, according to The Hollywood Reporter, demonstrating once again that the film industry has a serious problem when it comes to hiring people of color in leading roles.
The studio, which started the casting search in March, has reportedly seen over 2,000 actors in London, Abu Dhabi, India and Egypt. But The Hollywood Reporter says Disney hasn’t been able to find young actors with backgrounds in singing.
Twitter users weren’t buying that excuse.
Are they really out here claiming it’s hard to find an actor of Middle Eastern/South Asian descent who can act and sing to play Aladdin?!!!
— ReBecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC) July 11, 2017
— Jenny Yang???? (@jennyyangtv) July 11, 2017
Disney: Guy Ritchie is perfect to direct Aladdin.
Guy Ritchie: IDK how to find a Middle-Eastern man who can sing. https://t.co/oPagPdPO1F
— Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor) July 11, 2017
“Aladdin” is based on “One Thousand And One Nights.” The collection of stories is more commonly called “Arabian Nights,” but history shows that these stories actually take place in Central Asia (most likely modern-day China). Disney’s representation of the story takes place in fictional “Agrabah,” which mixes the cultures of multiple regions.
Most members of the “Aladdin” cast are expected to be relative newcomers ― except for Will Smith, who will reportedly be playing Genie. The Hollywood Reporter says Disney was interested in possibly casting British Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed, or Dev Patel, who is British of Indian descent, but it’s unclear how far those conversations went.
Disney did not respond to any request for comment.
In all seriousness. This is what it’s come to. They’re having trouble filling the role of ALADDIN if Dev Patel or Riz Ahmed don’t take it. https://t.co/GsfBfIB801
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) July 11, 2017
But people on Twitter were quick to offer their own suggestion of actors ― aside from Ahmed and Patel ― who might be able to take on the roles of Aladdin, Jasmine and Jafar.
Even “The Big Sick” star Kumail Nanjiani jumped into the fray.
What am I, chopped liver? https://t.co/SfhZ91y8n5
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) July 11, 2017
— Khaver Siddiqi (@thekarachikid) July 11, 2017
Two of Twitter users’ most popular picks included former “Victorious” star Avan Jogia and Bollywood icon Hrithik Roshan. And YouTube sensation Lily Singh was an almost unanimous choice for the role of Jasmine.
Well you can’t find better than Hrithik Roshan to do it, amazing actor and God of dance take note Disney !! pic.twitter.com/9P6X8joJUa
— ☄ (@DeeplyNourx) July 11, 2017
In a study of over 400 films and television series, the University of Southern California found that over half didn’t feature Asian speaking characters. USC’s Annenberg School found that in 2014, only 5 percent of characters in film were Asian, while nearly 75 percent of characters were white.
Twitter users highlighted the scores of actors who would fit Aladdin’s needs. They even suggested Oded Fehr for the role of Jafar. Fehr, who is best known for his roles on “The Mummy” and television series “Covert Affairs,” has already played Jafar on ABC’s “Once Upon A Time.”
Hopefully, Disney will follow Twitter’s lead and continue its effort to be a tad more accurate than the rest of Hollywood in its casting choices.