Walt Disney Pictures has an Aladdin problem as they have been unable to find a male lead to play Aladdin in their live-action film.
Guy Ritchie is directing the movie and the studio has searched for months to find a male lead. In addition to the unknown actors, the search has included known actors such as Riz Ahmed and Dev Patel. Newcomers include Achraf Koutet, Mena Massoud and George Kosturos.
Their problem is that they need to find someone who can act and sing since the live-action film, like the animated film from 1992, is also a musical. Moreover, they are unable to sign a female lead to portray Jasmine until a male lead is cast since both will need to have the on-screen chemistry or the film will crash and burn. Both Naomi Scott and Tara Sutaria are being considered for the role of Jasmine. Will Smith is attached as the Genie but nobody has been cast to play the villain Jafar.
According to The Hollywood Reporter:
Disney, Ritchie and casting director Randi Hiller brought on casting directors around the world, from London to Egypt to Abu Dhabi and India, for what sources say is a massive global search: Around 2,000 actors and actresses have read for the lead roles of Jasmine and Aladdin.
Given that the main setting is the fictional city of Agrabah and located in the Middle East, it’s essential that filmmakers cast a person of Middle East or Indian descent. If they don’t get the casting right, there will be outrage from the fans. It’s not the first time that they’ve had a lengthy casting search for one of their live-action films. It happened most recently with Cinderella.
Aladdin was supposed to start production this month but with the casting process having dragged on, the start of production is delayed until August.