The news comes only a few days after 28-year-old Mena Massoud, who played Aladdin in the movie, revealed that Aladdin hadn’t done him any favours in terms of getting work: the actor said he hasn’t been able to pull in a “single audition” since he starred in the film.
As a result, fans of Massoud have expressed concern online, questioning why Magnussen, 34 — whose character did not appear in the original 1992 animated classic, but was created solely for the multibillion-dollar-grossing 2019 film — has been offered a leading role in the new series as opposed to the Egyptian-Canadian actor who is reportedly struggling with his career.
A number of Twitter users took to the social media platform to call out Disney and Hollywood in general for what they say was a race-based decision.
“Actual Aladdin can’t get an audition but the token white dude gets his own series?” wrote one user. “Haha f–k you, Hollywood. You’re racist.”
Here’s what some other Twitter users had to say:
Though many users said they were fans of Magnussen, they were vocal about their disagreement with Disney’s casting choice.
One fan tweeted: “I really like Billy Magnussen. But this just doesn’t seem like a very good idea. Also, really bad timing after Mena Massoud talked about not getting any auditions after Aladdin.”
On starring in a major Hollywood film, Massoud said: “I want people to know that it’s not always dandelions and roses. ‘He must have made millions. He must be getting all these offers.’ it’s none of those things. I haven’t had a single audition since Aladdin came out.”
“Aladdin just hit $1 billion,” he added. “Can I at least get an audition? I’m not expecting you to be like, ‘Here’s Batman.’ But can I just get in the room?
“As for whether people are gonna discover me from it or what it’s going to do, I literally have no clue,” he said. “I can’t tell you I know how things are going to work out anymore.”
While Massoud played the titular role in the film, which received mixed reviews, Magnussen was only present in a handful of scenes as a potential suitor for Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) before she is won over by Aladdin.
— With files from Katie Scott
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