Disney’s animated movies are known for their animal sidekicks and one of several in 1992’s Aladdin is Raja the Tiger, the faithful yet fierce pet of Princess Jasmine. Unfortunately, fans of the critter will be upset to find out that he won’t appear in the upcoming live-action remake. However, there’s a very good reason for that.
Naomi Scott – who plays Jasmine, opposite Mena Massoud as Aladdin – has revealed that the role of the princess’ only friend will be filled by a new character: a handmaiden named Dalia (played by Nasim Pedrad). The change was made in order to add another female to the male-heavy line-up, as Scott explained.
“I never realized it, but in the animation, Jasmine is really the only female character — isn’t that crazy?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.”
Giving Jasmine a childhood friend is not the only new dimension that the live-action Aladdin will add to the character, though. Together with director Guy Ritchie, Scott worked to flesh out the Disney princess in some fresh new ways. In particular, the actress spoke about her version possessing a keen sense of duty to the people of Agrabah and other “leadership qualities.”
“There are so many amazing new things about the character in this adaptation — I could literally go on for an hour! 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.”
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. And you really get a sense that she has those leadership qualities within her.”
While Jasmine is one of Disney’s relatively more progressive heroines – she rallies against her father’s ideas of an arranged marriage, for one – the character definitely needed some filling out for this new version. The recent Beauty and the Beast had success with exploring different sides to the title characters yet also echoing the original animated movie just enough and hopefully, Aladdin will achieve something similar when it hits theaters on May 24, 2019.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter