Exodus: Gods and Kings, the forthcoming epic from director Ridley Scott has drawn criticism for casting mostly white actors in the biblical tale. Historians generally agree that people with a little more color would have dominated the famous scenes the film brings to life. Exodus: Gods and Kings stars Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses.
Now with Exodus: Gods and Kings due in theaters in December, the director himself is trying to head off the criticism. In an interview with Yahoo, Scott made his case for a cosmopolitan, multicultural ancient Egypt–and tried to say his casting choices reflected that blend. Since the Middle East was–and still is, in many ways–in the center of the world, the Oscar-winning director said he sought authenticity through a mashup of ethnicities. “We cast major actors from different ethnicities to reflect this diversity of culture, from Iranians to Spaniards to Arabs,” said Scott. “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.” That won’t likely satisfy people who don’t see the diversity on screen that Scott does. Having had “a lot of discussions” isn’t exactly going to buy him a pass. But the box office will tell the ultimate story. Unless those who aren’t satisfied with Scott’s idea of multicultural inclusion can keep people (and their dollars) away from this “whitewashed” version of history, the trend won’t abate.