Many fans of Disney’s live action Aladdin have since become fond of the actor who stepped into the shoes of the titular character—Mena Massoud. They might expect to see him in a wealth of projects going forward. But the reality, as reported by The Daily Beast, is that things have been slow going since.
Says Massoud of his workflow:
“I’m kind of tired of staying quiet about it. I want people to know that it’s not always dandelions and roses when you’re doing something like Aladdin. ‘He must have made millions. He must be getting all these offers.’ It’s none of those things. I haven’t had a single audition since Aladdin came out.”
Massoud’s journey to leading man status has been marked with some difficulty. His parents immigrated from Egypt to Toronto when the actor was just 3. And though they are Coptic Orthodox Christians (Massoud has supported the Coptic Orphans charity), the vast majority of the roles offered to Massoud have been for terrorists, or other performances that he believed could have garnered negativity toward Egyptians or those of Arab descent. His goal has been to avoid those ones, if he can.
And though he may not be auditioning, he’s got a lot going for him at the moment. Massoud just took home the Breakout Award from the SCAD Savannah Film Festival in October. After playing Tarek Kassar, a sharp CIA analyst on Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Massoud has another series coming later this week. On Friday he’ll be seen as Ethan Hart on Hulu’s Reprisal, a stylish noir thriller about a woman (Abigail Spencer) out for revenge against the gang that tried to kill her. Massoud’s character appears to be a young punk looking to get involved with the gang but, in actuality, he’s working as a spy for Spencer’s character. It’s a far cry from Al Qaeda #2, his first on-screen role in the series, Nikita, back in 2011.
Massoud recognizes the privilege of getting to work on a $1 billion success like Aladdin, and with big names like Will Smith and Guy Ritchie. He’s just befuddled as to why nothing has come his way since the movie took off. “Like I’m not expecting you to be like, here’s Batman,” he says. “But can I just get in the room? Like, can you just give me a chance? So it’s not always what you think.”
With an ongoing demand for more minority work in Hollywood, Massoud will likely get some calls, especially if Reprisal is any good. As far as expectations are concerned, he’ll just, as he says, have to pull them back a bit.