Prior to this announcement, it had been reported producers had been intending to feature a cast entirely made up of people of colour, with the film previously being criticised over false reports that Tom Hardy would be playing the villainous Jafar.
The Hollywood Reporter announced on Tuesday (5 September) that Billy would be playing Prince Anders - a character not featured in the 1992 animated film - who had been created especially for the new version.
However, Disney’s decision to include a white actor in the film has not been well-received, particularly on social media, where some are questioning the decision to introduce Billy’s character:
This isn’t the first time that ‘Aladdin’ has come under fire over its casting decisions, aside from the false Tom Hardy news earlier this year.
Naomi Scott, who is of British, Indian and Ugandan descent, will play Princess Jasmine in the new remake, which was met with a mixed reception, as many felt that the character should have been portrayed by a star of Middle-Eastern heritage.
Guy Ritchie will direct the upcoming film, with Mena Massoud in the titular role of ‘Aladdin’ and Will Smith to play the Genie.
‘Aladdin’ follows the success of other live-action Disney remakes including ‘Beauty And The Beast’, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, and the origin story ‘Maleficent’, based around ‘Sleeping Beauty’, which featured Angelina Jolie in the lead role.