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For Mena Massoud, starring as the lead of a movie that earned a billion dollars hasn’t led to instant Hollywood success.
“I’m kind of tired of staying quiet about it,” the Aladdin actor says in a new Daily Beast interview, published Tuesday. “I want people to know that it’s not always dandelions and roses when you’re doing something like Aladdin. ‘He must have made millions. He must be getting all these offers.’ It’s none of those things. I haven’t had a single audition since Aladdin came out.”
Massoud famously beat out 2,000 other actors to land the titular character in the Disney live-action remake, which has grossed $1.05 billion at the box office. He can be seen on Hulu’s Reprisal, which premieres Friday, and is set for a voice role in the upcoming animated feature Lamya’s Poem.
“It’s wild to a lot of people,” Massoud added in the story. “People have these ideas in their head. It’s like, I’m sitting here being like, OK, Aladdin just hit $1 billion. Can I at least get an audition? Like I’m not expecting you to be like, here’s Batman. But can I just get in the room? Like, can you just give me a chance? So it’s not always what you think.”
The Egyptian-born Canadian actor has been vocal about his previous struggles to avoid playing terrorist characters as a Middle Eastern actor in Hollywood and his early challenges as an actor in Canada. “Even though I’m very fortunate and grateful to have played Aladdin, there were still four, five casting directors who never gave me a shot in Toronto. They didn’t give me the time of day. I never got to audition for them,” Massoud told The Hollywood Reporter while launching his Ethnically Diverse Artists Foundation, which looks to support underrepresented artists.
During the casting process for Reprisal, which occurred after Massoud finished production on Aladdin, he says series creator Josh Corbin had “no fucking idea who I was.” He added, “I feel like I’m going to be overlooked and underestimated for a long time because I am a young actor. I’m an up-and-comer in the sense that I’ve been doing this for 10 years, but to a lot of people, Aladdin‘s the first thing they’ve seen me in. So I think I’m going to be viewed that way for a long time. I’m going to have to work at chipping away at that.”
Still, Massoud is getting some recognition as a young actor: In October, he received the SCAD Savannah Film Festival’s Breakout Award with Booksmart‘s Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, When They See Us‘ Jharrel Jerome and Mickey and the Bear‘s Camila Morrone.
However, Massoud said in the story, “I think since Aladdin my expectations for things releasing and what they’re going to do in my career, I’ve had to really pull them back. Because, you know, I got the same question about Aladdin and it was like, ‘Oh, you know, Aladdin’s coming out. How do you feel about what that’s going to do to your career?’ The big truth is I haven’t really seen a big anything from it.”
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