Nuke The Fridge had the fantastic opportunity to be invited to the press conference for the highly anticipated live action film, Aladdin. In attendance for the event was Will Smith (“Genie”), Mena Massoud (“Aladdin”), Naomi Scott (“Jasmine”), Nasim Pedrad (“Dalia”), Navid Negahban (“Sultan”), Director Guy Ritchie, Composer Alan Menken, and Production Designer Gemma Jackson. To kick off the global press event, we were treated to a mini-concert by none other than composer extraordinaire Alan Menken who took us on a whimsical musical journey of some of the most beloved Disney musical classics.
Production designer Gemma Jackson spoke about the scope of designing and creating the world of Aladdin acknowledging the team effort it took to create the live action world of Aladdin. Gemma Jackson also elaborated on the complexities of creating sets to accomodate the various choreographed dance numbers as well as working with Chas Jarrett who was with the visual effects.
As for the music that perfectly compliments the film, Will Smith and composer Alan Menken made very interesting comments about how Smith got into the Genie character and Alan Menken’s role when composing music for a film. Smith spoke about how the song Friend Like Me was the song that got him “Over the hump” and helped him get into character for the Genie role. Will Smith further elaborated when he went into the studio to record “Friend Like Me” he drew inspiration from groups like The Honey Drippers most notably the song “Impeach the President” as well as influental hip hop group Erik B. and Rakim’s “I know you got soul” with the 94 to 96 BPM (Beats per minute) range, to find the feel and the flow for the well known Genie number. “The Genie was really born in my mind from the music. And I understood it once I played with Friend Like Me”.
Alan Menken: “I say this a lot. I liken myself to an architect. I design a house that others are going to live in. And Will, you threw a hell of a party in that house. Yeah. And I just loved it. Once he did that, I just go, just back off and let him do what he does. Because it’s so good.”
Moderator Dani Fernandez asked Mena Massoud (Aladdin) what he was excited for audiences to see in his portrayal as Aladdin? Massoud explained how proud he was for the ethnic diversity and representation in the film. “It’s not often you can go to a movie theater and see all people of color represented like this”. Massoud further added how proud he was of the cast that director Guy Ritchie and Disney had put together for the film.
Walt Disney Pictures presents Aladdin in theatres May 24, 2019!