Disney 'can't find' lead for Aladdin film, netizens suggest actors, decry whitewashing

The Internet suggested several actors that could fit the bill.
The Internet suggested several actors that could fit the bill.PHOTO: MEDIACORP

After media reports said Disney and director Guy Ritchie are having trouble casting the lead for a live remake of its classic film Aladdin, social media has erupted with disbelief and suggested several possible actors that could fit the bill.

The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday (July 11) said English director Ritchie and the billion-dollar studio have been trying "for months" to cast the street rat-turned-prince.

It said production on the film was slated to begin by this month, according to the original casting call.

It cited sources that said there were several rounds of tests in London, but no suitable fit for the lead role yet, even though Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed have been considered.

Time magazine on Thursday said Ritchie went through more than 2,000 hopefuls to play the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine.

According to a casting call issued in March, the ideal Aladdin and Jasmine are between 18 and 25, and singing and dancing skills are "a plus".

The casting call emphasised that the characters are of Middle Eastern descent. Will Smith is signed on to play the genie.

Online, Twitter users reacted with disbelief, listing possible actors that could fit the bill, with many pitching Canadian actor Avan Jogia, whose father is British-Indian, as a good Aladdin.

Many also expressed exasperation at the likelihood that the character will be whitewashed as in other films - pointing fingers at the casting of Scarlett Johansson as the Japanese lead in Ghost In The Shell (2017) and Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead in Disney's 2010 Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time.

However, others pointed out that Aladdin, which hit screens in 1992, is set in a fictional Middle-Eastern locale, and Jogia and Patel are of Indian ethnicity.

Neither Disney nor Ritchie has addressed the controversy so far.

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