Guy Ritchie and Disney’s upcoming live-action Aladdin remake is in hot waters after it was reported that 100 white extras were darkened up with make-up to reflect the film’s Middle Eastern setting.
The story was broken by The Sunday Times, which was later run by various UK outlets this past weekend. The outlet claims that extras were darkened up because their roles required skills that weren’t available in the Asian community. Some examples including stuntmen, dancers, and camel herders.
Disney responded to the report by citing how Aladdin‘s production boasts a large, diverse cast:
“This is the most diverse cast ever assembled for a Disney live action production. More than 400 of the 500 background performers were Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean and Asian.”
Kaushal Odedra, a stand-in for Aladdin on the set commented that he saw 20 “very fair-skinned” actors waiting to be darkened up:
“On one set, two palace guards came in and I recognised one as a Caucasian actor, but he was now a darkly tanned Arab. I moved inside the marquee where there were 10 extras and two were Caucasian, but they had been heavily tanned to look Middle Eastern.”
Kaushal further criticised Disney for their actions:
“Disney are sending out a message that your skin color, your identity, your life experiences amount to nothing that can be powered on and washed off,”
TV Director Riaz Meer criticised Disney for their practices, citing it as “an insult to the whole industry”, further adding how Asian extras could’ve been easily cast:
“The talent exists and is accessible and there’s no way that Asian extras could not have been hired to meet the needs of the film. Failing to hire on-screen talent of the right ethnic identity to meet the clear needs of this production is just plain wrong. We expect better from all filmmakers.”
Aladdin stars Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad, Navid Negaghban, Billy Magnussen, and Numan Acar.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin is slated to hit theatres on May 24, 2019.
Source: The Sunday Times