Ridley Scott addresses casting criticism for ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’

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After months of criticism surrounding Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’, the director has finally spoken out about the casting controversies.

In an interview with Variety Scott explains the reasons for his cast of white actors for a movie set in ancient Egypt.

The reason why Egyptians do not appear in the upcoming biblical epic, at least playing key roles, is…a matter of money.

Ridley Scott explains his white ‘Exodus’ cast (photo: wegeekgirl)

“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,” Scott told Variety.

“I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

Christian Bale plays Moses in the film, with other white actors cast as other major roles such as Joel Edgerton, starring as ‘Ramses’, Sigourney Weaver  as ‘Tuya’ and Aaron Paul as ‘Joshua’.

Christian Bale playing Moses in ‘Exodus’ (photo: 20th Century Fox)

A still from ‘Exodus’ featuring Joel Edgerton starring as ‘Ramses’ (photo: indiewire)

Sigourney Weaver acting as ‘Tuya’ in ‘Exodus’ (photo: exodusgodsandkings

If ethnic diversity is featured, it is just through black actors like Ben Kingsley, María Valverde and Hiam Abbass who simply play secondary roles without having significant parts.

In an opinion piece for blog-publishing platform Medium, David Dennis Jr. wrote about criticism for the allegedly racist casting: “Ridley Scott is one of those guys who’s apparently hellbent on historical accuracy but doesn’t care enough to cast a person of color as Moses or a goddamn African queen while simultaneously filling out the rest of the movie with Black servants and thieves.”

“But to make the main characters white and everyone else African is cinematic colonialism. It’s creating a piece of historical ‘art’ that carries on oppressive imagery that’s helped shackle entire countries and corners of the world.”

Scott had already dealt with his critics back in August. In an interview with Yahoo he mainly commented on his cast rather than the related controversy it has raised while confirming that ‘Exodus’ would represent “a confluence of cultures”.

“Egypt was-as it is now-a confluence of cultures, as a result of being a crossroads geographically between Africa, the Middle East and Europe,” he said during the interview.

“We cast major actors from different ethnicities to reflect this diversity of culture, from Iranians to Spaniards to Arabs. There are many different theories about the ethnicity of the Egyptian people, and we had a lot of discussions about how to best represent the culture.”

Actor Joel Edgertone has also addressed the complaints and agreed with accusations by telling SBS: “It’s not my job to make those decisions. I got asked to do a job and it would have been very hard to say no to that job. But I do say that I am sensitive to it and I do, I do understand and empathise with that position.”

Of course, critics immediately took to Twitter to launch their protest.