Aladdin Interviews – Cast and Creators Share Their Journey of Aladdin
This past weekend, I attended one of the most magical press junkets for Disney’s Aladdin. The day kicked off with the ultimate experience: a 9-minute piano medley from composer Alan Menken, where he sang and played many of the songs he’s composed for Disney films.
After that performance, all of us were feeling emotional in the audience for sure, after getting that experience live from a Disney Legend! After that, Will Smith (Genie), Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Jasmine), Nasim Pedrad (Dalia), Navid Negahban (Sultan), production designer Gemma Jackson, and director Guy Ritchie also entered the room.
As fans know from the 1992 film, there’s something very magical about Aladdin that has made it one of the most beloved Disney films. The 2019 Aladdin captures that same spirit, with the cast and creators all having sentiment about the process of creating the film. I felt that their statements about what being a part of this film really speaks to how incredible it is:
“I’m especially proud of the representation and the ethnically diverse casting that was put together for this. It’s not often you can go to a movie theater and see all people of color represented like this. It’s certainly something that I was missing in my childhood. So I’m proud of the cast and the casting that Guy and Disney put together. I’m excited for little boys and girls to go see people that look like them on screen. That’s what I’m proud of.” – Mena Massoud
Referring to the message of Aladdin, “But truly, it’s just about finding your inner magic, believing in yourself, who you are, and what you are is special. There is nobody else like you. And I think the film represents that. Mena, he discovered Aladdin inside him and it was beautiful, the whole journey was an amazing experience.” – Navid Negahban
“It was so fun, because I think all the joy of creating something from scratch, but then watching that intersect with this story we all know and love. Which I had so much respect for coming into it. I’m a 90s kid. So for me, Aladdin was like golden age Disney. And to echo what Mena said, I’m so proud to be part of the most diversely cast Disney movie of all time I think. And it really, that film resonated with me as a child because it was the first time I saw a Middle Eastern protagonist in a major motion picture.” – Nasim Pedrad
Production designer Gemma Jackson, also shared her sentiments for getting to create the kingdom of Agrabah: “The most fun part of researching I think was just throwing everything up in the air and letting it settle and thinking about the parts of world that we wanted to explore for our kingdom and our land and letting it all kind of gradually come together. And as the different demands of the film grew, then different parts of that set grew. And creating a world for this fantastic bunch of mad people I think was the best of my job.” – Gemma Jackson
“I was saying Disney Magic is real. This is my first Disney movie. And there’s something that Walt Disney did in the design of these stories that at the core of these stories is something that shocks the inner child within you and forces it to come alive and smile and appreciate the moment. So for me, coming into this, first starting with fear, it definitely started with fear, what Robin Williams did with his character was, he just didn’t leave a lot of room to add to the genie. So I started off fearful. But then when I got with the music, it just started waking up that fun childlike silly part of me. And like Guy was saying. This was the most joyful experience of my career.” – Will Smith
It was an afternoon I’ll never forget! The original and the new Aladdin are both so special, and it was incredible to hear from the cast that the process of creating Aladdin was just as sentimental for them as it is for audiences to revisit this story in a new way. Their heart and passion they poured into the film really shines through on screen! Stay tuned soon for my full review of Aladdin, and visit here to read about my experience attending the World Premiere in Hollywood!