Get to Know the Star of the Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ Mena Massoud

The casting announcement of Mena Massoud in the live-action Aladdin was the talk of the town this weekend.

It was officially announced by Walt Disney Pictures president Sean Bailey at D23, but most Disney fans have never heard of Mena before this, so it was a bit off putting at first.

Thankfully, Entertainment Tonight put together a few facts that allowed us to get to know him much better.

Take a read:

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.”

H/T: Entertainment Tonight

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