Aladdin and Jasmine

The Disney live-action remake train is rolling on, but one of the next features planned in the series is apparently stuck at the station. The word is the planned remake of Aladdin is having some serious problems. They can't find a star. A new report claims that the film, that was set to go into production this month can't because they have yet to find the right person to play the title character. They're also having trouble settling on a Jasmine as well.

Disney and director Guy Ritchie have certainly done their best to try and find their two lead characters. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 2,000 people have read for the roles, but it sounds like they're having some significant trouble finding just the right person. Part of the difficulty comes from the specifics of the casting requirements. The studio is looking for somebody in their mid-20s who can act and sing who is of Middle Eastern or Indian descent. This limits options of course. Only two known actors are mentioned as potential leads. Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed are apparently being considered, but it seems that a newcomer playing Aladdin is much more likely at this point. In addition, it sounds like the role of Jasmine has been narrowed down to Power Rangers actress Naomi Scott or relative newcomer Tara Sutaria, but they want to hold off on picking their Jasmine until they have their Aladdin, in order to be sure the on-screen chemistry works. British pop star Jade Thirlwall was also rumored for the role at one point, though it's possible she's no longer in the running as she's not mentioned here.

While this all sounds fairly dire, it seems that all the news isn't bad. According to THR, insiders tell them that what's really causing the delay is a desire by Disney to make sure they make the right decision. This makes it sound like they might actually have strong potential candidates, but they're having trouble deciding which one is right, and of course, they also want to be sure they don't overlook somebody who could be right. Aladdin is a much beloved Disney character and so the studio wants to do right by him. The pressure to make the right choice is even greater when you're looking at unknowns, since they're, well, unknown. There's little to help you make the decision beyond an audition and a gut reaction.

The only name that's currently attached to any role is Will Smith who is reportedly on board to play the Genie. The film is also looking for named actors to play the villain Jafar. Tom Hardy had been previously rumored as a potential choice, but there's no indication of a decision having been made.

While Disney may be taking their time in an attempt to get this right, which is an admirable goal, it sounds like the situation may be a bit out of hand. If the case is that Disney is having trouble deciding which of a number of decent choices is the right one, there likely won't be any magic piece of information that will make the choice clear. If they truly can't find the right person, then continuing to look is ultimately the best decision, as there's no point in bothering to make the movie without the right actor. Disney hasn't started phoning in these remakes yet, and they certainly shouldn't start here.

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