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Naomi Scott, who is featured in THR‘s Next Gen 2017 issue, says Disney’s live-action retelling of Aladdin is a whole new world for Jasmine.
“There are so many amazing new things about the character in this adaptation — I could literally go on for an hour!” Scott excitedly tells The Hollywood Reporter from London, where the film is in production. “Everyone involved in this project weren’t afraid to really just rip things down and start again, especially the Princess Jasmine character, because it’s so important to get that right.”
Scott — who suited up for the Power Rangers reboot earlier this year — opened up about playing the eligible princess in Guy Ritchie’s reimagining, opposite Mena Massoud as the titular street rat. Will Smith is also taking on the Genie originated by Robin Williams, and Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen are among the cast.
First, audiences of the May 2019 release can expect to meet a Jasmine who is a well-rounded character. “I love what Disney is doing at the moment with their princesses — going from animation to live-action and making those animated characters real human beings,” says Scott, a British actress and singer whose mother is from northern India. “Being a female character is also about being a real person, and guess what? [She] can be strong and have fun, but also get it wrong and be emotional. She’s a multidimensional woman, and she doesn’t have to just be one thing. So in this movie, you see her go on such a roller coaster, as opposed to her one goal being to fall in love or get married.”
Additionally, Scott notes the retelling’s addition a new character — a handmaiden named Dalia, played by Pedrad — will reveal a much-needed side of Jasmine, whose only “friend” in the animated version was a pet tiger named Rajah.
“I never realized it, but in the animation, Jasmine is really the only female character — isn’t that crazy?” she explains. “The Dalia character is so important to this movie because she’s the only other female character. She may be the handmaiden but they’re best friends; they’re so close because they’ve grown up together. So we wanted people to watch the movie and see Jasmine’s relationship with another woman, and be like, ‘Ah, that’s what I’m like with my girlfriend,’ or ‘We would so do that if I was in that position.’ That’s something that’s missing from the animation.”
Of filming with Saturday Night Live alum Pedrad, Scott laughs, “We’re just obsessed with each other, I adore her. She’s hilarious and amazing, and as soon as we started working together, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, why haven’t we known each other for so many years?!’”
Finally, Scott teases viewers will meet Jasmine as that potential leader of Agrabah. “You really get in this adaptation of the movie that her heart is for her people, and her main objective is what’s best for her kingdom,” she says. “And you really get a sense that she has those leadership qualities within her.”
Aladdin is set to debut May 24, 2019.
Nov. 8, 8 a.m. THR incorrectly noted that the retelling’s omission of Rajah the tiger was previously announced, though it is only widely assumed at the time. THR regrets the error.
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