Will Smith wants his Aladdin co-star Mena Massoud to keep going, despite his rough time after starring in the blockbuster Disney live-action remake.
On Wednesday, the 51-year-old veteran actor reacted to Massoud’s recent comments that he hasn’t been able to get a single audition since Aladdin came out — despite the movie making $1 billion worldwide. In an interview with People at the Spies in Disguise premiere, Smith said making it in Hollywood is definitely a struggle, but that you can’t give up if it’s your dream.
“The thing about this business, that is not unlike life, it’s hard by design,” Smith said. “It’s like the universe, God, whatever you believe, designed it to be hard. So, if you’re having a hard time it’s because you’re supposed to.”
“That difficulty is overcome by patience, commitment, dedication, endurance — so if you have a dream, you desperately have to be willing to work on it every single hour of the day with your deepest love and focus,” he continued. “You can not get around having a hard time.”
Massoud, 28, opened up about his predicament to The Daily Beast in an interview published on Tuesday.
“I’m kind of tired of staying quiet about it,” the Cairo, Egypt, native said. “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.”
“It’s wild to a lot of people,” he continued. “People have these ideas in their head. It’s like, I’m sitting here being like, ‘OK, Aladdin just hit $1 billion. Can I at least get an audition?’ I’m not expecting you to be, like, ‘Here’s Batman.’ But can I just get in the room? Can you just give me a chance? So, it’s not always what you think.”
When ET spoke to Massoud last month at the Napa Valley Film Festival, he told ET that Smith taught him to not have “expectations.”
“I just learned [from Smith] to stay grounded and, you know, to not have expectations of how things are gonna go,” he said. “You kinda got to be fluid and move with the wave and I’m learning that now, you know, so I learned a lot from him.”
He also told ET that life post-Aladdin was “more or less the same.”
“It is still hustling on the grind trying to get my next job and, you know, more people recognize me here and there, but the hustle’s the same,” he said.
ET spoke to both Massoud and Smith in May at the Aladdin premiere in Los Angeles, where they both hilariously recounted Smith at first mistaking Massoud for a dancer on the film before they were introduced.
“So what happened, we’re on set and, you know, there’s 200 dancers standing around and I’m talking to the director,” Smith told ET. “This dude just comes up and he’s like, standing in our conversation. And I’m like, ‘That’s a bold-a** little dancer going to stand there in the middle of the director and the Genie in this conversation.’ And he just stood there and he didn’t say nothing! He just smiled and then walked away!”
Massoud eventually came back after realizing the awkwardness of the situation and playfully blamed the mix-up on director Guy Ritchie.
“I came back and reintroduced myself,” he said.
Smith continued to joke, “It was feeling like a security situation, you know. Like, imagine we’re talking and he just did [came up and stood here]. That’s weird!”