Excitement levels are peaking for the new live-action Aladdin film, with the remake’s genie, Will Smith, posting a selfie with fellow cast members Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Princess Jasmine) and Marwan Kenzari (Jafar).
But fans have noticed one popular character is missing from Disney’s newly released cast list, and they’re so ticked off they’re moulting.
Your suspicions are correct: Iago, Jafar’s sarcastic, bad-tempered parrot, is not appearing in the remake. At least, not as you know him.
As pointed out by parrot fans over at hellogiggles.com, Iago was not mentioned on the cast press release – and Disney has now confirmed to stylist.co.uk that the feathered friend has indeed not been assigned a star voice.
The film, based on the 1992 Disney animation and drawing inspiration from One Thousand and One Nights tales, doesn’t look like it will cast someone for Aladdin’s monkey pal Abu either, though as he’s famously low on lines, others have pointed out he might well be played by an actual monkey. In the musical stage version, Iago and Abu are switched to human characters.
Gilbert Gottfried himself, the original voice of Iago in the popular cartoon, recently retweeted a user pleading for him to reprise his role, so perhaps there’s hope for Iago fans after all – plus Disney’s spokesperson didn’t rule out the character completely, just pointed out that there was no Iago casting announcement.
But with production having already started for a slated 2018 release, we’re afraid to say it’s looking unlikely that any Iago appearance will have a voice.
The new Aladdin cast includes Homeland’s Navid Negahban as the Sultan, and Nasim Pedrad (Saturday Night Live) as Dalia, Princess Jasmine’s handmaiden and confidant.
However, the introduction of Into the Woods’ Billy Magnussen as a new character called Prince Anders, described as “a suitor from Skanland and potential husband for Princess Jasmine” has drawn criticism from some quarters for introducing a white character into what’s seen as a Middle Eastern tale.
The announcement of Scott, who is of British-Indian heritage, as Princess Jasmine also made waves, with some accusing Disney of treating those of Asian and Middle Eastern appearance as “interchangeable” .
The film’s setting of Agrabah is fictional, but several references set it in the Middle East, while there’s also what appears to be nods to other cultures, with the palace thought to have taken influence from the Taj Mahal and Jasmine’s tiger being named Rajah. The original film had problematic aspects, with the mixing of cultures insensitive and use of Arab stereotypes offensive, even leading to a change in one of the song lyrics shortly after release.
The new film is directed by Guy Ritchie, while Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken provides the music, including refreshed versions of the original songs and completely new recordings.