Disney’s remakes of its classic animated films have been pretty hit and miss when it comes to people liking them. There are different reasons that’s the case, from the actors cast for beloved characters, the change in the story, and more.
The people behind Disney’s “Aladdin” wanted nothing more than to honor the legacy of the film and break ground for a new generation of audience at the same time.
Examples of that happening in the film were numerous and were laid out by the cast and creatives at the film’s global press conference in Los Angeles recently.
“First off, the performances of these actors were phenomenal,” said director Guy Ritchie. “They became their characters and I cried every time that happened,” to which actor Will Smith (Genie) replied, “Yeah, you became Cry Ritchie.”
Smith himself felt like he broke ground on his interpretation of the blue, grant-wishing Genie first popularized by Robin Williams in the 90s classic. “It was the classic and Robin that made saying ‘yes’ to the part so difficult, but I found the way I could contribute; through the music.” Smith went on to say that he found that his hip-hop background and how the music team, including the writer of the classic songs Alan Menken, allowed him to be himself. “That was affirmation and comfort that I needed,” Smith said.
Commenting on Smith’s arrangement of his classics, Menken added, “He knows what he’s doing, so let him do it!”
Adding to the appreciated music changes was Jasmine herself, Naomi Scott. She is a musician and felt that adding her R&B voice and yet honoring Menken’s Broadway-style music was important. “There’s this new song that Alan wrote for Jasmine that has power and intensity to it. I wanted to prove that a progressive princess could sing and act at the same time.”
As for singing and dancing, actor Mena Massoud who plays the titular singing-and-dancing role of Aladdin, said that he was happy to see diversity on-screen.
“This was such a smart thing for Disney to do and cast the most diverse cast in a Disney movie to date,” the Canadian-born Egyptian actor said. “That’s something to celebrate in our own world today.”
Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” hits theaters on May 24, 2019.