Casiah Cagan | Life
Entertainment Weekly on Wednesday shared the first photos and behind-the-scenes stories of Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake of the classic Disney film Aladdin.
Set to hit the big screen in the Spring of 2019, this version of Aladdin stars Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine, and Will Smith as the beloved Genie.
The entertainment magazine’s newest issue sports the film’s three stars on the cover in full character, and though many praised the casting and costuming of Massoud and Scott, there was undoubtedly something missing on Smith’s end.
It was later revealed that in the movie, Genie has the ability to switch from being blue into “human form,” which is how the Genie is portrayed on the magazine’s cover. Plus, the digital effects team was still playing around with the CGI effects.
This news made fans much happier, though they were already quite satisfied with the choice to give Will Smith such an iconic role, originally played by the late Robin Williams.
Gene Ritchie, the film’s director, knew it would be tough to find someone to fill the unique Genie shoes Williams had left.
“The great thing about the role of the Genie is that it’s essentially a hyperbole for who that individual actor is,” Ritchie said.
“It’s a wonderful platform and tapestry for an actor to fill his boots on.”
Ultimately, the director turned to Will Smith, who is arguably one of the funniest and most iconic people in the entertainment industry.
But even these labels couldn’t stop Smith from feeling just a little nervous about the role he took on.
“Whenever you’re doing things that are iconic, it’s always terrifying,” Smith had told Entertainment Weekly.
“The question is always: Where was there meat left on the bone? Robin didn’t leave a lot of meat on the bone with the character…I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different. Just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane, versus trying to compete.”
Though the role of Genie seemed to fall quickly into place, Ritchie found that finding his Aladdin and Jasmine was not going to be as easy. Auditions for the roles lasted for six months before Ritchie finally decided on giving the roles to Canadian actor Mena Massoud and British actress Naomi Scott.
Massoud immediately began singing and dancing lessons as well as taking stunt classes in order to make sure he could play his role as best he could.
“The singing and dancing I had to really train and put in time for, as I’m predominantly an actor first,” Massoud says.
As for Scott, she had grown up drawn to the character of Jasmine for not only her kind spirit and intricate background, but the fact that the princess was someone who looked just like her.
“Having a Disney princess that looked something like me, I think was really powerful,” says Scott.
“Jasmine’s main objective at the beginning is to really protect her people and to do right by them. She definitely isn’t a finished article at the beginning of the movie, but she has this beautiful arc and progression, and she goes from asking for what she wants to just taking it, and displaying that she is a leader.”
Aladdin‘s official release date is for May 24, 2019.
All images from Entertainment Weekly.