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After several long months of open casting calls and screen tests, Disney has finally found its new Aladdin—and it’s none other than Markham, Ontario’s own Mena Massoud.
Massoud will star in the live-action remake of Disney’s 1992 animated film alongside triple threat Will Smith and Power Rangers’ Naomi Scott. He reportedly beat out hundreds of other hopeful actors for the role, including rumoured high-profile contenders Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed.
Based on his most recent tweet, Massoud is clearly pretty stoked to be part of a franchise as well-known and beloved as Aladdin. And we’re stoked for him—especially after finding out that he’s not only a former teen drama star, but also has as much of a love-hate relationship with Canadian sports teams as we do.
Here’s what you need to know about Disney’s brand new “street-rat”-turned-prince.
Aladdin’s casting directors worked hard to cast an actor of Middle Eastern descent in the lead role, and we’re so glad they did. In case you’re curious, right now Massoud is living in and travelling between Toronto and Los Angeles.
Massoud has already worked with John Krasinski on the upcoming TV series Jack Ryan, Maggie Q on Nikita, and Greg Kinnear on the thriller Strange But True. He’ll probably be able to keep his cool on set even though he’ll be working closely with the Fresh Prince himself.
In a 2015 interview with The Hudsucker, Massoud revealed that Robin Williams—aka the original Genie—is one of his biggest acting inspirations, describing Williams as “incredibly well-rounded.”
After studying neuroscience at the University of Toronto for a short time, Massoud transferred to Ryerson University and graduated from Ryerson’s School of Performance in 2014. In hindsight, transferring was probably a good choice.
Like, kind of a lot. Hopefully he’ll be able to keep up with games, even with an undoubtedly crazy production schedule.
Refs + Cavs not letting @Raptors gain any momentum whatsoever.
— Mena Massoud (@MenaMassoud) May 7, 2017
— Mena Massoud (@MenaMassoud) February 28, 2017
— Mena Massoud (@MenaMassoud) March 7, 2016
Can you even call yourself a true Canadian actor if you weren’t on a Canadian teen drama at some point? (Yes, even you Ryan Gosling.) A few years ago, Massoud landed a recurring role in YTV’s Open Heart as Jared Malik, a stern but well-meaning hospital employee.
Did we mention Massoud got the role of Jared just a few days after graduating university? That’s what happens when you hustle.
Don’t we all? In 2015, he told Defective Geeks that if he could be any superhero and have any powers he wanted, he would be Spider-Man but “have different colored Spider Suits depending on how I feel that day.” We love Tom Holland, but if he ever decides to retire the Spidey Suit we definitely wouldn’t be mad if Massoud stepped in to take over.