Why The Cast Of Disney's Live-Action Aladdin Looks So Familiar

Recasting a classic is never easy, but that's the difficult task that Disney faced when looking for the leads for its live-action remake of the classic 1992 cartoon Aladdin. Disney searched far and wide for their stars, picking some lesser known actors and some big celebs to come together for what seems like a stellar cast. As we wait to see the final product on the big screen, check out why the stars of the live-action Aladdin movie look so familiar.

Mena Massoud (Aladdin)

Disney launched a worldwide search for the lead in Aladdin, and, although they reportedly looked at the likes of Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed, the part ended up going to relative newcomer Mena Massoud. Massoud began acting in 2011 with a bit part in the CW spy series Nikita and later that year booked a role in the Canadian limited series Poser.

Massoud continued to build up his credits in Canada, appearing in the medical drama Combat Hospital and the police drama King. His most notable pre-Aladdin role, however, was in the TeenNick mystery Open Heart, in which he played a worker at a local hospital. He later had a guest role on the medical drama Saving Hope and made appearances in the short films Masters in Crime and Final Exam.

If you can't wait to see Massoud in Aladdin, you can catch another glimpse of the actor at work in Amazon's Jack Ryan TV series, starring The Office star John Krasinski. According to Deadline, Massoud will play the recurring character of Tarek Kassar, Ryan's friend and colleague at the CIA. The series is set to hit Amazon in August 2018.

Naomi Scott (Jasmine)

Like Massoud, Naomi Scott also had to compete with thousands of other actors to land the role of Princess Jasmine, but, luckily, the British starlet already had plenty of experience under her belt. Her acting career first kicked off with the U.K. Disney Channel series Life Bites, which she joined in its second season. 

Scott then moved over to the U.S. Disney Channel to star in the 2011 original musical movie Lemonade Mouth. That same year, she landed a leading role on the Fox sci-fi series Terra Nova. Although the big budget series, which was executive produced by Steven Spielberg, was heavily promoted, it wound up being canceled after just one season.

Scott bounced back from the TV flop with a guest-starring role on the BBC One series By Any Means and an appearance in The 33, a biopic based on the tribulations of the Chilean miners who were trapped inside the San Jose Mine in 2010. She also appeared in the ITV drama Lewis

Scott's biggest role before Aladdin was in 2017's Power Rangers reboot, in which she played the Pink Ranger. The role earned her a Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actress (via Us Weekly). Aside from her acting, Scott is also an accomplished musician, releasing the EP Promises in 2016. You can listen to her music on SoundCloud.

Will Smith (Genie)

Will Smith has big shoes to fill, taking on the role of the Genie, who was famously played by Robin Williams in the original cartoon. Smith is easily the biggest name in the movie's cast, having established himself as an actor all the way back in 1990 when he landed a starring role on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, building off of his successful rap career. Smith even earned two Golden Globe Award nominations during his time on the show.

Throughout the 1990s, Smith quickly made a name for himself as an action star, appearing in 1995's Bad Boys, 1996's Independence Day, and 1997's Men in Black — not to mention the movie's sequels Men in Black II and Men in Black 3. Smith then landed the title role in the 2001 Muhammad Ali biopic Ali, earning his first Oscar nomination.

The early 2000s saw Smith appearing in the sci-fi film I, Robot and the romantic comedy Hitch. In 2006, he earned another Oscar nomination for starring in the drama The Pursuit of Happyness. Smith has continued to appear in big budget films, starring in I Am Legend, Hancockand After Earth. He also made a cameo in the big fight scene in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. More recently, Smith earned another Golden Globe nomination for the biopic Concussion. He also joined the DCEU as Deadshot in Suicide Squad and led the Netflix film Bright, with Suicide Squad director David Ayer. 

Marwan Kenzari (Jafar)

Marwan Kenzari, who will play Aladdin's principal villain Jafar, has earned critical acclaim for his roles in his native Netherlands, but he's just starting to break out in the United States. He began acting in 2008 in the drama Katia's Sister and later appeared in films like The Last Days of Emma Blank, Loft, Rabat, and Wolf, which won him a Golden Calf Award for Best Actor at the Netherlands Film Festival in 2013.

Kenzari began starring in properties U.S. audiences may be a bit more familiar with in the later years, beginning with the action thriller Collide in 2016. That same year, he starred in the big budget epic Ben-Hur and appeared in Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale's historical drama The Promise, a film about the Armenian Genocide. 

In 2017, Kenzari starred in a few big budget blockbusters, appearing opposite Tom Cruise in Universal's The Mummy remake and playing the train conductor in Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express. He also starred opposite Noomi Rapace in her Netflix action film What Happened to Monday. 

Nasim Pedrad (Dalia)

Nasim Pedrad is set to play Dalia, a new character created for the live-action film. Dalia is one of Jasmine's handmaidens and the princess' chief confidant (via Deadline). Considering Pedrad's TV background, Dalia's presence in the movie may help provide some comic relief, as the actress is best known for her five-season run on the NBC comedy sketch series Saturday Night Live

Pedrad had had a few small roles before landing on SNL, appearing in bit parts in Gilmore Girls and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, as well as holding a recurring role as a nurse on ER. During her time on SNL, Pedrad had parts in the big screen comedies No Strings Attached, Cooties, and The Dictator.

Pedrad left SNL in 2014, shortly after landing a starring role on the Fox sitcom Mulaney. The show was canceled after one season, but Pedrad bounced back quickly, joining Ryan Murphy's horror dramedy Scream Queens and appearing on Fox's New Girl as Winston's partner (and later fiancée) Aly. She later had guest appearances on The Mindy Project and Curb Your Enthusiasm and was a regular in season two of the TBS alien abduction comedy People of Earth.

Billy Magnussen (Prince Anders)

Billy Magnussen will play another new character in the live-action Aladdin, starring as Prince Anders, a new alternate love interest for Jasmine. Magnussen should be plenty familiar to fans of big screen musicals — he played Rapunzel's prince in 2014's Into the Woods. Magnussen is also an accomplished stage actor, having earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Magnussen's career kicked off when he landed a part on the soap opera As the World Turns, appearing on 199 episodes total. After leaving the show, he booked guest roles on NCIS: Los Angeles, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Blue Bloods, CSI, Boardwalk Empire, and The Leftovers

After Into the Woods, Magnussen started booking roles in more big budget films, appearing in Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies and Adam McKay's The Big Short. He also played Kato Kaelin in Ryan Murphy's miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and starred in the Bruce Lee biopic film Birth of the Dragon

Magnussen later appeared on the big screen in the Aubrey Plaza-starring dark comedy Ingrid Goes West and in the Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman comedy Game Night. He also had guest-starring roles on the Netflix comedies Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Friends From College and appeared in the "USS Callister" episode of the sci-fi anthology Black Mirror.

Numan Acar (Hakim)

Another new addition for the live-action remake, Numan Acar will play Hakim, the head of the guards and right hand to Jafar. Acar is a Turkish actor who began acting in his home country, but he broke out in the United States after joining the Showtime spy thriller Homeland in 2014. That year, Acar also played a part in Jon Stewart's biopic Rosewater, starring Gael García Bernal. 

Acar then starred in the 2015 Point Break remake and appeared in the historical biopic The Promise, opposite his future Aladdin co-star Marwan Kenzari. He also starred in Matt Damon's 2016 blockbuster The Great Wall and had a recurring guest role on Fox's Prison Break reboot.

Acar later appeared in Diane Kruger's German-language thriller In the Fade and starred opposite Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon in the military drama 12 Strong. Like his Aladdin co-star Mena Massoud, Acar also has a role in Amazon's upcoming Jack Ryan series.

Navid Negahban (The Sultan)

Navid Negahban is set to play the Sultan of Agrabah in the live-action remake of Aladdin. Negahban has been acting since 2008, amassing over 115 credits, but he is best known for his role on Showtime's Homeland, which he joined in 2011. Along with the rest of the show's cast, Negahban earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2013 (via Huffington Post).

Negahban's early roles included guest roles on The Shield, JAG, The West Wing, Lost, Without A Trace, Criminal Minds, Alias, Law and Order, The Closer, and NCIS. He also appeared in the dramas Richard III and Charlie Wilson's War and played the title role in the 2008 fantasy film Djinn.

Negahban won Best Actor at the Noor Iranian Film Festival in 2011 for his appearance in the short Liberation. He also had a part in the Tobey Maguire film Brothers and guest-starred on the sci-fi series Fringe. In 2010, he had a recurring guest role on 24.

Negahban's later TV appearances include CSI: NY, Arrow, The Mentalist, Person of Interest, Scorpion, Veep, Law and Order: SVU, The Catch, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He has also had recurring guest roles on the CW series The Messengers and the ABC series Mistresses. On the big screen, he starred in Dylan O'Brien's American Assassin and Chris Hemsworth's 12 Strong, alongside Numan Acar. Negahban will also play the Shadow King on season two of FX's Legion (via TVLine).