Billy Magnussen (“Into the Woods,” “Ingrid Goes West”) has been cast as Prince Anders, who was not featured in the 1992 animated film and is fresh to the “Aladdin” series. A Disney press statement describes him as “a suitor from Skanland and potential husband for Princess Jasmine.”
There were suitors in the animated movie, but they were bit comedic parts, while Magnussen gets prominent billing in Disney press materials for the movie.
There’s now concern on social media about what the move says about Disney’s promise to cast racially-appropriate actors for the movie’s main roles.
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“They did not just rewrite ‘Aladdin’… just to add a white person into it??” one Twitter user asked.
“THEY WILL BEND OVER BACKWARDS TO INSERT A WHITE CHARACTER OUT OF THIN AIR,” tweeted comedian Jenny Yang.
— geejayeff (@geejayeff) September 5, 2017
they did not just rewrite Aladdin?? Just to add a white person into it?? Right in front of my salad?? https://t.co/bmoTX8gaT2
— #defendDACA (@VancityReynIds) September 6, 2017
— Kyle Krieger (@KyleKriegerHair) September 6, 2017
They wrote a new character in for a remake of the cartoon Aladdin…..*looks at new character* pic.twitter.com/0QuGdskP9u
— ????ThaTzuBurr???? (@BaeTzuBurr) September 6, 2017
— Peter Armado (@parmado) September 6, 2017
Some people felt that the move, while not whitewashing, shows that Disney doesn’t trust a cast made up entirely of people of color. Others are looking at other Disney live-action remakes like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cinderella,” which remained close to their source material.
“This is purely a cynical effort by Disney to make ‘Aladdin’ more palatable to white viewers,” wrote another user. “It is needless and insulting to all involved.”
So millions of people have seen the Aladdin cartoon.They couldn't trust the live action to work enough without creating this?! https://t.co/ZeX9XDLGo2
— #1WonderWoman (@bgirl65) September 6, 2017
— Jenny Yang???????????????? (@jennyyangtv) September 6, 2017
— Charles Clymer????️???? (@cmclymer) September 6, 2017
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST gets a shot-for-shot remake. #Aladdin gets a white guy who was never in the film or the cartoon series. ????????????????
— Mala Bhattacharjee (@badnecklace) September 6, 2017
— Ashley ®© ➰ (@Ashleyfangirl) September 6, 2017
The move also comes after it was reported that Disney had issues finding its Aladdin and Jasmine after 2,000 actors read for the parts. Internet users were confused by the delay, since according to one, “Aladdin is neither South Asian nor Arab. He is a cartoon hybrid of every racist trope.”
— ferdosa @ TIFF (@atomicwick) September 6, 2017
Disney announced Wednesday that casting is complete and production is underway in London. The “Aladdin” remake also stars Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Merwan Kenzari, who respectively will play the Genie, Aladdin, Jasmine and Jafar.
“Homeland” star David Negahban will play the Sultan, along with Nasim Pedrad and Numan Acar. No release date has been set yet.