This is one of those times when it’s easy to agree with those such as Scott Campbell of We Got This Covered when stating that the movie Prince of Persia was indeed subjected to a great deal of whitewashing since the lead character is not of Middle Eastern descent and can’t even pull it off. The best that could have happened would be an explanation of how the character of Dastan, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, was the orphan of a trader that had perished within the Middle East, but that would have been pulling away from the source material far too much. Overall the story within the movie wasn’t bad at all, but movie audiences really only need one thread they don’t like to pick at and things tend to unravel very quickly. It’s funny though, if a character that’s been written into the source material as white is replaced, no one really throws this kind of a fuss, which kind of furthers the narrative that inclusion isn’t really the reason why people are up in arms about certain movie characters being whitewashed, even if the characters are meant to be white. In a Prince of Persia reboot though it is an agreement that Dastan should be someone of Middle Eastern origin just to make it a little more believable and possibly bring people back on board since going back into the histories of the region it’s likely to be seen that there would have been some travelers coming and going through the land, but to keep the people happy Disney will no doubt bring in an actor from the region, or at least someone with the ideal heritage, to fill in the roles of those they need.
In truth it would be kind of surprising to hear that the Mouse House didn’t even think of bringing in Mena Massoud, since he might play a very convincing Dastan, considering that he played Aladdin quite well and helped to make the movie a success. Given the fact that people are becoming so increasingly picky with who takes which part however it’s easy to think that Disney will be moving forward with a great deal of caution if this idea does continue to take root. One crucial factor that a lot of people need to take into account is that with the coronavirus still moving about and stalling and shutting things down it’s possible that we won’t see this or any other idea move forward for a long time to come. Even when the virus is in the rear view and life goes back to a semblance of what it was before, it’s likely that Disney might continue to take a look and wonder if this reboot is such a good idea. As I said, the story isn’t that bad, the acting wasn’t horrible, and the overall effect was only ruined by the call of whitewashing that admittedly did take place and has been a problem in the past. Anyone that wants to wonder just why the call for actors of Middle Eastern origin weren’t being conducted however might need to slow their roll for the moment since looking at things from a different perspective might help before the lambasting begins. It’s true that for certain parts in certain movies that it would be far better to find someone that at least looks the part, meaning that they look as though they could be from the region and belong to the culture their character does. But the downside of this is that when trying to do this, the character not only has to fit the type that the director is looking for, but they also have to be able to act and they need to be able to take direction.
There are many variables that go into casting, and some of them are quite important since getting someone that looks the part is all well and good, but if they can’t act or want to behave like a diva then things need to change. At that point it becomes less about accuracy and inclusion than it does about who’s going to step on set and work the hardest to get the job done and who can be the most efficient in the process. Jake Gyllenhaal put in a great performance really for what he was asked to do, and while his accent and his look weren’t right, obviously, he was still the action star that was needed for the picture despite his skin tone. People don’t like that he’s white and he was meant to be darker skinned? That’s a little too bad, because last time I read the Dark Tower series, Roland of Gilead was written in as a white man, but on the big screen he was portrayed by a black man, Idris Elba. I like Elba a lot, but it was kind of a surprise to see a white character be replaced so easily, but hey, a lot of people aren’t willing to talk about that.