Disney has done a pretty solid job of taking their classic animated films and turning them into live-action blockbuster films. From Cinderella to The Jungle Book to the recent smash Beauty and the Beast, it's been hit after hit when it comes to these new and improved version of the movies that have defined so many people's childhood, my own included. Aladdin is up next and production on the film was supposed to begin this month, July. However, that hasn't quite happened yet, since it's been reported that Disney is having a hard time finding their diamond in the rough, Aladdin himself.
The movie's director, Guy Ritchie, along with everyone at The Walt Disney Company studios, have been on the hunt for the person to play the leading role and apparently, they've seen about 2,000 actors and actresses audition for the role of Al and his leading lady Princess Jasmine, sources told The Hollywood Reporter. The publication is also reporting that it's been difficult for the casting directors to find a guy in his 20s who you know, can both act and sing, and happens to be of Middle-Eastern or Indian descent.
Now, that part is a bit hard to believe, since there's a 99.9% chance there are plenty of talented actors out there who would fit the description, but we know they want to find the most perfect guy for the part who is a newcomer on the scene. So yes, it's a big task to take on. And hey, I personally appreciate the careful consideration. The cartoon classic was released in my birth year of 1992 and I used to watch it on repeat, still to this day able to sing every word to a "A Whole New World" and every song from the movie tbh. It taught me more importantly though that letting someone see your true self is always the most beautiful way to connect with another person.
At 4 years old, not going to lie, I totally slayed my Jasmine costume, plus I credit Aladdin as being my first celeb crush — forever tied for first place in my heart along with Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter. So Disney really has a lot to live up to. And we also have the role of Jasmine to consider, since she not only has to be a sass-master queen able to hold her own and fight for her right to love who she wants, but needs to have that out of this world chemistry with Aladdin.
There is one celeb out there though that seems to have universal appeal and would really be a solid choice: Zayn Malik. The former One Direction singer has expressed his love for Aladdin many times, once up on stage when he legit declared that's the character he is:
And not too long ago, a fan tweeted side-by-side photos of Z and the Disney character that he shared on his own feed.
He couldn't help but agree with the comparison, replying back to this tweet with a simple smiley face.
Z can grow his lovely locks to look just like Aladdin's signature 'do too, a very important aspect to the casting process of course. (I know it's just hair and obviously that doesn't make or break if someone is right for a role but having a bit of fun here.)
Zayn has the singing voice of a literal angel, loves Disney and has even expressed an interest in taking on acting.
"Creating something, it’s fun for me. So I enjoy that, and any other lane as well, whether it be acting or whatever that may be — even just doing a voice-over for a cartoon or something in the future, I wouldn’t mind doing that. I think it would be quite cool," Zayn said in an interview with Clash.
So he is totally down for this in our eyes, and seriously he seems like the perfect fit. But before we all call up the Disney executives, there is one major detail to be aware of that puts a giant wrench in these plans. Zayn's dad's family is from Pakistan, which makes him half Pakistani obviously, but Pakistan is not in the Middle East. The country is in South Asia so although pretty much everyone would LOVE to see him turn into an actual Disney Prince, he doesn't correctly fit the description. And frankly, if there's one thing Disney needs to do, it's stay true to the roots of this beloved story.
Alas, Zayn will not be the saving grace of this movie, at least not as the main role. But there are other beloved actors whose names are being thrown out there who are a solid fit. Like Academy Award nominated Dev Patel, best known for his roles in the movies Slumdog Millionaire, Lion and of course as Anwar in the series Skins. Seeing him in this musical would be something totally new for him and he's an incredible actor so we're here for it.
Riz Ahmed, another big name actor who has been rumored to be a candidate for the role too. He really blew everyone away in his performance in the HBO mini-series, The Night Of, earning a Golden Globe nomination. Plus he can rap too. So amazing actor + musically talented? Check and check.
Another fan fave who should totally be considered? Avan Jogia. He starred in Victorious as Beck, so you know, he's been a part of a musical project before. Plus, he has incredible hair too that would give dear old Zayn a run for his money. But real talk, Avan would be kinda perfect, and he looks great as a king, as shown to us when he modeled in a recent Dolce & Gabbana fashion show.
Plenty of top-notch choices in our eyes who fit the bill, so not sure what the delay here is. OK so I understand the desire to want to uncover a hidden gem somewhere, have this movie be an up and coming actor's big break, instead of casting an already established guy for the part. But if anything, all of these actors prove it's not impossible to find an Aladdin, so it's time to get it together Disney.
It's been said that production on the movie is set to begin now in August, giving the studios and Guy more time to cast the role and it can surely be done. It should be done right. Currently, Will Smith is rumored to be signed on to play the role of the Genie and since the late Robin Williams who voiced the character in the '92 version is no longer with us and James Monroe Iglehart, the actor who originated the role in the Broadway version has become another main figure associated with the role, everyone has really high expectations and hopes. Will is a legend himself, so there's so doubt he'll bring his own unique flair to the Genie.
But as someone who has a personal connection to Aladdin, I truly hope Disney makes this movie happen the correct way. Yes, it's taking some time, but I hope they don't settle. Keep searching every inch of the world to find the diamond in the rough who will be the Aladdin kids today will see themselves in. Will relate to. Have a crush on. Laugh with. Learn from. We fans demand it really, so let's make this happen. I'm not here to accept defeat and let everyone say it's too hard to find the right person for the role. He's out there, you just have to look a little harder. We're trusting you. Don't let us down.