Getting the opportunity to meet a prominent figure in any work field is a universally intimidating experience to which we can all relate, but it’s easy to imagine that it’s particularly nerve-wracking for actors. After all, becoming a “prominent figure” in the performing arts means that they are one of the most famous people on the planet, and being around anyone with that kind of popularity and power can put a person a bit off their game. This in mind, it’s pretty easy to understand why Mena Massoud made an awkward mistake the first time he had the opportunity to meet Will Smith in the making of Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin.
So what exactly happened? To put it plainly, Massoud’s introduction to Smith wasn’t so much an introduction, as the young actor actually completely forgot to introduce himself. This is a funny story that I had the opportunity to learn this past weekend during the Los Angeles press day for Aladdin, as Massoud told me about his first time meeting the headliner of the new fantasy blockbuster:
Yeah, I definitely geeked out. The first time I met him was during prep before we started shooting, and I was so nervous I forgot to say my name when I went up and introduced myself. So really I didn't introduce myself. So I had to backtrack and go back and it was a little awkward for me. But it's a dream come true. Me and the boys would get together when we were younger and put on a Will Smith movie. So it's amazing.
So it’s not the most embarrassing situation we’ve heard about behind-the-scenes in Hollywood, but one can also picture it as a blush-inducing moment.
Mena Massoud does have a fair amount of acting experience under his belt, his first role being in a 2011 episode of the television series Nikita – but Aladdin is definitely a big deal for his career. Not only is it the first major blockbuster of which he’s been a part, but it’s also the first opportunity that he’s had to play the titular role in anything. It was also his first chance to work alongside an A-lister on the level of Will Smith, so one can fully understand why he would totally forget to say his own name during the initial introduction.
Awkward as that may have been at the start, fortunately things definitely worked out well in the end. The relationship between Mena Massoud’s Aladdin and Will Smith’s character, Genie, is one of the most important in the film, and it’s also one of the best parts of the finished product. They have a great back and forth together, and you’d never guess watching the movie that things got off to a bit of an odd start when they first met.
You can watch Mena Massoud discuss his first opportunity meeting Will Smith by clicking play on the video below:
In addition to starring Mena Massoud and Will Smith, Aladdin also features Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, and Numan Acar, and you can see them all on the big screen this weekend as the Disney film arrives in theaters everywhere. Given that it’s the biggest release of the Memorial Day holiday you can be sure that we’ll have plenty more coverage coming your way in the next few days, so be sure to keep coming back to CinemaBlend for more.