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In the making of a musical, a choreographer is an immensely important, but sometimes invisible presence. It’s an incredibly hard job that occasionally requires making sure a hundred or more people are working in coordination, but part of the choreographer’s job is to make sure it all looks effortless and natural.
This is partially true for the new live-action Aladdin, as while you’re watching the movie you’re focusing on the magic of the dance sequences instead of thinking about the work required to make them happen – but something you might not know is that the film does give back in a special way to the man who helped make the musical numbers possible, as I recently learned from director Guy Ritchie:
As noted in the video above, one of my favorite bits in the new movie involves a prince that Genie (Will Smith) conjures in the desert during a conversation with Aladdin (Mena Massoud), and I was surprised to learn during a recent interview with Guy Ritchie that the person playing said prince is none other than Jamal Sims – the film’s choreographer. You never see a close-up of the character, as he is kept in the far distance for his entire scene, but that makes it no less an awesome gift to one of the filmmakers responsible for injecting the live-action Aladdin with a great deal of its flair.
It was a cameo that Guy Ritchie was very excited to talk about during the Los Angeles press day for his new movie this past weekend, as he expressed a great deal of appreciation for Jamal Sims’ contribution to the film. Discussing the small role, the filmmaker told me,
So I'm quite glad you asked that question, because he is Jamal Sims. Jamal Sims is our choreographer, who I have nothing but positive things to say about. For example, if people ask me what was my favorite scene in the film is, because I have the memory of a goldfish I usually go for the last scene in the film, which is the dance sequence, right? Which was Jamal's. And I gave him all that challenge a week before. And I thought, 'I'm sure he's going to fail,' though he failed on nothing else. It was very hard to pull off a dance sequence in a short period of time, and he really delivered on that.
The scene plays out shortly after Aladdin and Genie manage to escape the Cave Of Wonders and are discussing what it is that the latter can do for the former wish-wise. Realizing that he needs to be royalty in order to marry the lovely Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), Aladdin makes the request, “Make me a prince” – but Genie points out that this phrasing is just a tad vague. Illustrating his point, the magical being conjures an actual prince who is left standing about 500 feet behind them having absolutely no clue what’s going on – wondering where his palace is, and just wanting to go home. This is the part played by Jamal Sims, and he gets some of the biggest laughs in the film.
Having the choreographer play this part was a special way for Guy Ritchie to say “thank you” for the work that Sims did in the making of the movie, which apparently also included the coordination of an end credits dance sequence that came together at the very last minute. The director added that he even gave the prince more lines than what we actually see in the finished cut of Aladdin, and that it was all quite funny:
Jamal was a key character throughout the entire production. 'I just want to go home, man.' So that was Jamal. We wanted to use Jamal because he was so integral to the movie. 'Anyone see my palace? Where's my palace?' He actually had more dialogue. I think if you saw the whole thing of Jamal Sims and the lost prince, it's quite entertaining.
We can’t say for certain right now, but that would certainly make for some great bonus content on Aladdin’s home video release later this year.