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Being a live-action remake of the beloved 1992 original, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin will definitely a have more than a few familiar scenes. After all, there are a number of iconic moments in the animated version, and there are certain expectations that audiences will have going in. That being said, the film will also do what it can to set itself apart from anything fans have seen before, and according to star Mena Massoud, part of that effort resulted in a sequence that’s entirely improvised.
In celebration of Aladdin tickets going on sale, I had the chance to sit down with Mena Massoud on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California, and it was during a conversation about his collaboration with Will Smith that I learned about the sequence exclusively built from improv in the blockbuster. I asked the actor if there was any part of the movie that particularly stood out to him as a favorite, and he described it as so:
I do [have a favorite scene], yes. There's one scene where we kind of improved the whole scene - and it's in the film, so you'll get to see it. It's the first time that the genie and Prince Ali get to meet the royal family, so it's quite a fun, fun sequence. And getting to improv with Will Smith? That's a dream come true.
If you’re familiar with the story of Aladdin, it’s pretty easy to place where this scene will be in the movie – namely toward the end of the first act. While we don’t know right now just how much will be added to the story in the new version, this bit will presumably come after Aladdin has met an in-disguise Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) on the streets of Agrabah, and been enlisted by Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) to enter the Cave of Wonders to steal the genie’s lamp. As Prince Ali, Aladdin will be trying to make the best first impression that he can with the Sultan (Navid Negahban), hoping to be seen as an appropriate suitor for Jasmine, and we’ll have to wait and see what kind of impression the improv session leaves.
As I followed up about the sequence, I learned that part of the reason why Mena Massoud feels the scene was special is because improvisation wasn’t really an everyday thing on the set of Aladdin. While he was able to throw in the occasional line here and there, working with Guy Ritchie meant primarily sticking to the script. However, when he had his chance to have some extra creative freedom, he excitedly grabbed at it. Said Massoud,
A little bit here and there, but this sequence was definitely a big improv sequence from top to finish basically. Will does a good job of improvising throughout the film, but that scene in particular is a standout for me.
You can watch more from my interview with Aladdin star Mena Massoud below!
It won’t be long until fans will be able to see the scene for themselves, as Aladdin – which co-stars Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar, Frank Welker, and Alan Tudyk – will be in theaters on May 24th. If the excitement is become too much for you, the good news is that you can now at least partially abate those feelings by buying your ticket for opening weekend early.
Between now and the release date, be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more updates about Aladdin.