A new report in the British tabloid The Sunday Times (via Deadline) reports that Guy Ritchie’s currently filming live-action film adaptation of Disney’s animated feature “Aladdin” has had to “brown up some extras” for some scenes.
The film is set entirely in the Middle East in ancient times, so there’s no Caucasians. The production, taking place at Longcross studios in Surrey just 30 miles from London, reportedly sports 500 background performers with 400 of those of Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean or Asian descent.
It’s the other 100 that are proving the issue with the paper reporting that the studio has brought in white actors to help fill key background roles, stunt positions, dancer and ‘camel handler’ positions.
They quote an extra, who is a stand-in for one of the leads, who says she saw ‘very fair skinned’ actors in line outside make-up tents ‘waiting to have their skin darkened’ and adds: “Disney are sending out a message that your skin colour, your identity, your life experiences amount to nothing that can be powered on and washed off.”
A Disney spokesperson has already responded to the report, confirming that they did have to adjust the skin colour of some people in key positions of safety and stunts that required speciality skills:
“Great care was taken to put together one of the largest most diverse casts ever seen on screen. Diversity of our cast and background performers was a requirement and only in a handful of instances when it was a matter of speciality skills, safety and control (special effects rigs, stunt performers and handling of animals) were crew made up to blend in.”
Will Smith leads the cast of the film as the Genie alongside British-Indian actress Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Egyptian-born Canadian Mena Massoud in the title role.
The story comes as Disney has also got into a bit of trouble over a piece of “Black Panther” merchandise which just seems a little off. Can you guess what’s wrong with this picture:
— Disney Pins Blog (@DisneyPinsBlog) January 7, 2018