When Disney announced Guy Ritchie would be directing a live-action version of Aladdin many heads turned, people questioning how diverse the production would be.
One point of contention has been the casting of Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders, a white character created for the upcoming film.
Reports of Disney “browning up” dozens of white actors for various Asian roles in the movie were also published, the company arguing: “This is the most diverse cast ever assembled for a Disney live-action production.”
Iranian-born actor Navid Negahban, who plays the Sultan, has spoken to The Huffington Post about accusations of whitewashing, saying: “It’s not whitewashing.”
“The thing is that the garden should be filled with flowers of different kinds,” the actor told the publication.
“If not, the garden is going to be very boring. So you’re gonna go and see this beautiful garden with colourful flowers, and I just hope that you enjoy the journey.
“Just go enjoy the journey because you will definitely love the film. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the film has something for you to take away from it.”
Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud — best known for roles in Jack Ryan and Open Heart — will play the movie’s titular character, while Naomi Scott portrays Princess Jasmine. Will Smith has been cast as the Genie, with Marwan Kenzari playing Jafar.
Aladdin reaches cinemas 24 May 2019.
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