In case you were beginning to forget that Exodus: Gods and Kings is a movie about ancient Egyptians featuring a cast made up of mostly white Anglo-European actors, Ridley Scott is here to remind you in the crassest way possible. Speaking to Variety (via The Playlist) about his reasons for casting folks like Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, Scott departed from his usual “it’s totally historically accurate” narrative to state the following about the issue at hand:
I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such…I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.
Thank you, Ridley, for being so diplomatic.
While Scott could have maybe put the whole thing a bit more nicely, he might have a small point: it would be more difficult to get a film financed with unknown actors in the leads than with names like Christian Bale at the front. However, let us examine this problem just a little bit.
No one suggested that Scott should have cast unknown or little know actors in the roles. Joel Edgerton, the man who played Ramses in Exodus: Gods and Kings, is not exactly a household name, nor is he the one that will pack the houses when the film comes out. Is Scott claiming that there are no actors of color who could have played the part of Ramses? How about Tuya, the part occupied by Sigourney Weaver? No? None? Alrighty then.
It seems to me that this is just Scott trying to explain his way out of some problematic casting choices. At a time when we continue to focus on diversity in media, he’s managing to tell yet another whitewashed Biblical narrative that strains historical credulity. While it’s nothing new, it is rather disheartening to consider.
If you still feel like giving Exodus: Gods and Kings a chance, you’ll be able to see it when it comes out on December 12. Until then, you can check out a new TV spot and featurette.