*The latest biblical film “Exodus: Gods and Kings” will arrive in theaters this Friday with enough racial controversy to part the Red Sea.
Sadly, the uproar is nothing new. From Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, to Laurence Olivier as Othello, to every big screen depiction of Jesus, white actors have played non-white historical characters on the big screen for decades.
Director Ridley Scott proudly continues the tradition with white British actor Christian Bale leading his “Exodus” cast as the Egyptian prophet Moses. …“Proudly” because Scott’s response to anyone who questions the authenticity of an all-white cast for a film set in Egypt is… “Get a life.”
The most famous depiction of Moses in cinema comes from non-Egyptian actor Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments”…but that was in 1956. What is Ridley Scott’s excuse in 2014?
At Sunday’s premiere in Brooklyn, the filmmaker argued that he had to assemble the “best possible cast … on a budget of this scale.” (The film cost an estimated $140 million.)
Bale said Scott was not to blame, but rather audience habits and investors who prefer “big-name actors” who will draw larger audiences and bigger returns on their investment.
“I don’t think fingers should be pointed, but we should all look at ourselves and say, ‘Are we supporting wonderful actors in films by North African and Middle Eastern filmmakers and actors,’ because there are some fantastic actors out there,” Bale said.
“If people start supporting those films more and more, then financiers in the market will follow,” Bale continued.
Bale said he hopes that another Exodus film would eventually be made with a North African or Middle Eastern man playing Moses.
“To me that would be a day of celebration,” he said. “For the actors it would be wonderful. It would be a wonderful day for humanity, but also for films and for storytelling in general.”
Below, Bale tells us why he couldn’t turn down playing Moses, despite the potential controversy:
“Exodus: Gods and Kings” opens nationwide on Friday, Dec. 12.
Watch the trailer below: