Director of 'Aladdin' Reportedly Having Really Hard Time With Casting, Twitter Calling BS

July 12th 2017

Tiernan Hebron

Beginning in 2010 with "Alice in Wonderland," Disney began branching out with live action versions of their classic films and in subsequent years, audiences have seen new versions of everything from "The Jungle Book" to "Beauty and the Beast."

The latest animated classic to get the live action reboot? The 1992 film "Aladdin."

However, reported casting delays in the project are underscoring a troubling aspect of Hollywood's lack of diversity.


In March, director Guy Ritchie and casting director, Randi Hiller, sent out a global casting call to find stars for the leading roles and they have yet to succeed.

As The Hollywood Reporter noted, "[a]round 2,000 actors and actresses have read for the lead roles of Jasmine and Aladdin," without success. An agent of a client who read for one of the roles reported that, “the test process was a mess.” There was reportedly some interest in Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed for the part of Aladdin, but neither actor was cast. ATTN: has reached out to Disney for comment and will update this story when we hear back.



Ritchie and his team are "searching to find an actor of Middle Eastern or Indian descent who can sing and dance to play the part of Aladdin," according to The Hollywood Reporter. But the fact that the team is finding such a task so difficult seems to expose just how rare it is for Hollywood to actually branch out and cast non-white actors for leading roles.

Some Twitter users were quick to point out the absurdity of the delay.



As one Twitter user pointed out, "there is literally an entire second most populous country in the world with an industry of men who can sing and dance." She was naturally referring to Hindi cinema — frequently referred to as "Bollywood" — which not only boasts the world’s highest paid actors, but commonly features roles heavy on singing and dancing.


Avan Jogia, known for his roles in "Victorious" and "The Outcasts" also took to Twitter to comment, after numerous fans suggested he should be considered for the role of Aladdin.


In his post, the 25-year-old Canadian actor referred to an article written about Rajiv Surendra, which discusses Surendra's depression after not landing the lead role in "Life of Pi." He had prepped for the role for six years and still lost out to another, younger, less-experienced actor. Jogia makes a crucial point that he and his fellow actors of color should not have to compete with one another for the minimal amount of roles available to them, but rather, the goal should be creating a system where the same amount of roles are available to them as there are for white actors.

A lack of diversity behind the scenes.

So while Ritchie and Hiller may not be practicing whitewashing in their search for the lead role — though there were been rumors that might have been the case for the role of Jafar — the delay shows just how little Hollywood seems to be aware of diverse talent pools. And of course, this would seem to be influenced by the whitewashing that goes on behind the scenes. According to a 2016 study done by the Bunche Center for African-American Studies at UCLA, 90 percent of talent agents at Hollywood’s three largest firms were white. The same study also found that these agents represented 80 percent of all broadcast TV writer-producers, of which, only 2 percent were people of color.