Aladdin actor Navid Negahban has responded to recent controversy surrounding the upcoming Disney live-action film.
Iranian-born actor Navid Negahban plays The Sultan in the movie, which hits cinemas in 2019, and recently spoke to Huffington Post about accusations of whitewashing surrounding the film.
Aladdin stars British actress Naomi Scott in the role of Princess Jasmine. Scott’s casting was met with a degree of controversy last year. Scott is of a British and Indian background – and not the Arab heritage that fans had expected.
“It’s not whitewashing,” Negahban has said, adding: “The thing is that the garden should be filled with flowers of different kinds. If not, the garden is going to be very boring. So you’re gonna go and see this beautiful garden with colourful flowers, and I just hope that you enjoy the journey.”
“Just go enjoy the journey,” Negahban continued, “because you will definitely love the film. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the film has something for you to take away from it.”
Disney recently responded to ‘brownface’ accusations, admitted that make-up was applied to white actors in order to make them blend into a number of crowd scenes in the forthcoming live-action adaptation of Aladdin.
In a statement, the film giant confirmed a “handful of instances” where white background performers were used “when it was a matter of specialty skills, safety and control.”
Actor Kaushal Odedra worked on the Guy Ritchie directed film as an extra, and claims that he personally witnessed “around twenty” white actors who were transformed to appear Arabian.
“Aladdin was the perfect time to show diversity but also be accurate,” he told BBC Newsbeat. “They’re being out of touch with what’s going on around them.”
Responding to the claims on Twitter, actor Kal Penn accused Disney of using ‘brownface’ – the term used to refer to a white actor whose skin has been darkened in order to play an ethnic minority role.
Aladdin is scheduled for release on May 24, 2019.