Disney officially has a new Aladdin!
Mena Massoud has been cast in the titular role of the upcoming movie, announced Walt Disney Pictures president Sean Bailey at D23 on Saturday. And while not much is known about Massoud, who has just a few credits to his name, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s 5 things to know about our new prince of thieves!
1. He’s Canadian
Our new Aladdin isn’t actually from Agrabah. Massoud was born in Egypt, but raised in Canada, and these days, he spends his time between Toronto and Los Angeles.
2. You’ll Be Seeing Him in Jack Ryan
Before Massoud makes his Aladdin debut, you’ll have a chance to catch him on screen in Amazon’s Jack Ryan series, starring John Krasinski. The actor, who has appeared on Nikita, Open Heart, and Saving Hope, will also appear in Strange But True, with Amy Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Nick Robinson, Margaret Qualley and Connor Jessup.
3. He’s Into Fitness
Massoud has already been gearing up for Aladdin’s tiny vest! The actor took to Instagram in November to show off his hard work in the gym — which resulted in that sexy six pack!
4. Getting His Big Break Wasn’t Easy
“I grew up in a culturally different household,” Massoud said in an interview with Defective Geeks. “My parents saw certain things differently than other people. I went to schools that had a significantly large Caucasian population and I feel very fortunate because I was able to compare that perspective with my family’s. It allowed me to create a wider world view on things. Also, though, at this point in my career, being a visible minority in this industry still affects me.”
“I can’t compete for roles that require me to be Caucasian or African American, even if those characters really connect with me and intrigue me,” he continued. “The competition may be less, some people would say, but the amount of work to be had is less as well. However, I think the industry is growing more and more and starting to support actors of all cultural backgrounds.”
5. Robin Williams Inspired Him to Pursue Acting
Will Smith may play the Genie in Disney’s live-action remake, but it was Williams himself who inspired Massoud to pursue the craft.
“He was an incredibly well-rounded actor but I grew up on his role in Mrs. Doubtfire,” Massoud said of Williams in an interview with The Hudsucker, admitting that the actor inspired him to transfer from The University of Toronto to an arts program at Ryerson University. “That role by itself is very well-rounded and he goes through an amazing journey in that movie. I think it’s very underrated.”
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