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Ridley Scott Explains Why He Cast White Actors In Exodus: Gods and Kings

Ridley Scott attends a special screening of "The Counselor" at Odeon West End on October 3, 2013 in London, England. - Stuart C. Wilson—Getty Images
Ridley Scott attends a special screening of "The Counselor" at Odeon West End on October 3, 2013 in London, England. Stuart C. Wilson—Getty Images

The famed director's upcoming film is set in Egypt, though there are no actors of color in lead roles

Those watching the trailer for the upcoming biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings for the first time might be struck by the film’s cast, though not for its talent, but for its uniform whiteness.

The Ridley Scott film counts Christian Bale (as Moses), Joel Edgerton (as Ramses), Sigourney Weaver (as Tuya) and Aaron Paul (as Joshua) as its leading cast, despite being set in ancient Egypt. The casting caused some outrage online, to which Scott has now responded in an interview with Variety. “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,” the 76-year-old director said when asked about casting so many white actors. “I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

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The answer isn’t likely to ease the backlash against the film. On social media, critics have been urging people to #BoycottExodusMovie for the “whitewashing” of the story.

Isaac Andrews, Exodus: Gods and Kings In Exodus, God speaks through Malak, a young boy played by Isaac Andrews. The British preteen is no stranger to the ancient world, having previously appeared in the Dwayne Johnson Hercules; his next big role is in the Avengers sequel. Gareth Cattermole—Getty Images; 20th Century Fox
John Huston, The Bible: In The Beginning When casting a powerful, commanding leading man, iconic director John Huston knew to look no further than himself. Huston appeared in his own film as both Noah and the voice of God, part of a side career in acting that went on to include the downright devilish villain in Chinatown. 20th Century Fox
Alanis Morissette, Dogma This goofy religious satire from the mind of Kevin Smith featured Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as fallen angels and Morissette, in a cameo, as the Almighty. Morissette was in the midst of promoting Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, an album inspired by Eastern religion that put forward a more spiritual, enlightened rock star. Lionsgate
Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty He'd already played the president, so God wasn't much of a stretch; Freeman, one of America's most trusted actors, brought his resounding tones to bear on the loopy Jim Carrey comedy. Playing God must have its perks: Unlike stars Carrey and Jennifer Aniston, Freeman returned for the sequel Evan Almighty. Universal
Val Kilmer, Prince of Egypt Like John Huston, Kilmer played a double role, inhabiting both Moses and the voice of God, a purposeful statement meant to invoke the manner in which regular people "hear God." JB Lacroix—WireImage/Getty Images; Dreamworks
Graham Chapman, Monty Python and the Holy Grail The late Chapman (pictured right) played multiple roles, just like the rest of the Monty Python troupe; he wasn't just God but also King Arthur and one of the Three-Headed Knight's three heads. John Downing—Express/Getty Images
Rob Zombie, Super Zombie's voice, previously heard on albums including Hellbilly Deluxe and The Sinister Urge, helped motivate Rainn Wilson to become a superhero in the indie Super; director James Gunn used Zombie's voice again in his Guardians of the Galaxy. Getty Images/IFC Films
Whoopi Goldberg, A little Bit of Heaven The Oscar winner was part of the deeply strange Kate Hudson rom-com, in which she appears as God before a terminally-ill Hudson and grants her three wishes. This wasn't new for Goldberg, though: she'd previously played a spin on God in 2002's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. Millenium Entertainment
George Burns, Oh, God! The former vaudevillian played God in Oh, God! and two cutely-titled sequels: Oh, God! Book II and Oh, God! You Devil. In the latter, he played — predictably enough — both God and Satan. Warner Bros./Getty Images
Will.i.am, Joan of Arcadia (TV) The Black Eyed Peas frontman was one of many performers to have appeared as the Almighty on the CBS soap opera about a girl in communication with divine powers. Other Gods included future Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto and The West Wing star Kathryn Joosten. CBS

[Variety]

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