Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Stars Will Smith, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott arrive in Jordan to promote Aladdin

The actors took a part in press conference where they discussed filming parts of the movie in the Kingdom

Aladdin star Mena Massoud has wished all those fasting a blessed month during Ramadan.

The Egyptian Canadian actor, who himself is a Coptic Christian, made the gesture as part of press conference held in Amman to promote the upcoming live action reboot of the 1992 animated classic.

The 27-year-old, who was joined on stage by fellow stars Will Smith (who plays the role of the genie), Naomi Scott (Princess Jasmine) and director Guy Ritchie, opened his remarks by stating “Inshallah, may God bring more happy days to the Arab and Muslim communities and Ramadan Kareem.”

It set the scene for an engaging press conference where all actors discussed various aspects of the film.

The National was part of a select group of regional press invited to watch Aladdin last night in Amman.

Due to an embargo, details cannot yet be revealed at length, but suffice to say that the movie is a guaranteed crowd pleaser and should be enjoyed by all age groups. In short, it’s fantastic. It’s funny, it’s flamboyant, it's witty, and I suspect it will do big business in the box office when it premieres in the UAE on May 23.

In the meantime, here are here are a few insights we gleaned from the press conference to raise your anticipation even further.

Will Smith’s son convinced him to play The Genie

While many of Hollywood’s A List would consider the flamboyant blue Genie as a role to die for, Smith revealed he agonised about taking on the part. It took a chat with his son, singer and actor Jaden Smith, to seal the deal.

“There were three or four films that I was considering and I was having a hard time making a decision about what I wanted to,” he said.

“Jaden walked in and he said ‘Dad, what are you doing?’ and I told him that I had all these movies and I have to pick one by Monday. And he told me to tell him the stories. So I pitched him all the stories and the last one was the genie. He looked at the (Aladdin) screenplay and grabbed the other ones and threw them on the floor and just said ‘Duh!”

Mena Massoud loved his shoot in Jordan

With a select few scenes requiring a vast desert landscape, Massoud and Smith were the only two major actors who took part in the Jordanian shoot which took place at the majestic Wadi Rum. Massoud recalled the experience as a career highlight and praised the Jordanian people and technical support crew.

“The people are so incredibly generous and kind,” he said.

“Being out in the desert was just amazing. I mean, there is such a peace out in the middle of the desert. There is nothing like it.”

Naomi Scott always had an affinity with Princess Jasmine

The British actress and singer called the character a favourite ever since she first watched the original animated film as a 7-year-old. Even at that young age, Scott recognised that she shared of the feisty character traits of the princess.

“There is such a power in seeing yourself in the character, especially when you are a seven year old girl. And that’s what you gravitate to, the character you know you can play,” she said.

“I felt empowered watching Jasmine and all we wanted to do was keep that feeling but modernise here.”

What’s next for the stars in Jordan?

With the completion of the press duties on Monday, the stars will attend a screening later in the evening in the presence of Prince Ali bin Hussein, the chairman of Jordan's Royal Film Commission.

The Amman-based body were responsible for facilitating Aladdin’s Jordanian shoot by organising film permits and hiring of 150 locals to supplement the existing crew. The following day Massoud and Scott continue their international press tour with stops in both Mexico and Japan.

Updated: May 14, 2019 03:16 PM

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