The last time we heard anything from Guy Ritchie’s live-action version of Aladdin—not counting a release date swap with Star Wars—was when Disney announced that it had created a totally new role just so it could find a spot for white guy Billy Magnussen, and the latest update doesn’t make Disney look any better. As reported by The Sunday Times (via IndieWire), the mouse people have now admitted to “darkening” the skin of white extras “for roles requiring skills that could not be readily found in the Asian community” near the studio were filming was happening. Specifically, that included “stunt men, dancers, and camel handlers.”
A former stand-in for one of the movie’s leads said that he saw multiple white actors who had been “heavily tanned to look Middle Eastern,” as well as a line of more than a dozen “very fair-skinned” actors waiting to be “darkened.” He chose note to raise this issue with the crew, noting that they were “almost entirely white” and it “seemed somewhat intimidating” because of that.
Ritchie didn’t comment on the story, but in addition to confirming the report, Disney noted that Aladdin has “the most diverse cast ever assembled for a Disney live-action production.”