I love Christian Bale. Don't even get me started on how amazing his acting is, let alone how versatile of an actor he really is. He's been in so many different genres of films that it's hard to keep track. Little Women, Newsies, Batman Begins, Equilibrium, 3:10 To Yuma, American Hustle, etc....he's amazing in all of them. And I have no doubt that he will be amazing in Exodus: Gods and Kings.
But Christian's casting, along with Joel Edgerton (Ramses) and Aaron Paul's (Joshua) casting concerns me--with the state of Hollywood. This film is about Jewish and Egyptian people. And nothing screams Hollywood Caste System like hiring white (Australian, Welsh, and Caucasian-American) people to play the three main roles of a film taking place in Egypt.
And then looking at the supporting cast, everyone else (John Turturro, Indira Varma, Ben Kingsley, Hiam Abbass, Kevork Malikyan, and Golshifteh Farahani), with the exception of Sigourney Weaver is a minority i.e. not white.
There are so many talented Israeli and Egyptian actors out there. It's bad enough that minorities can barely get the best friend roles in commercial films, and that the majority of the positive and widespread attention that they do get for their work is because of race related roles or biopics, but now, apparently, as long as the character isn't black or African, then there's no need to even hire a minority actor. Perfect.
That should be Hollywood's motto--as long as there is no need for blackface, then there's no need to hire anyone else other than white people for major roles.
I'm more disappointed with Ridley Scott. He's not some young or unknown director who's trying to break into the movie business. He has pull. He chose to do this particular story for whatever reason--no one held a gun to his head. And he chose to do it this way. If he had really wanted to make a a great, epic film with Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, then he could've gone into a different direction.
A direction that does not include casting white actors in leads meant for non-white people. I'm sure that there are tons of scripts floating around in Hollywood with a similar story. Or he could've hired someone to write his own script, using a similar historic event--or could've even made the whole story up. Brother against brother in a war is not a new idea.
What I found even more disappointing was that no one really had the balls to ask Ridley Scott about his casting--as in no one flat out asked him "Why did you cast white actors in roles meant for non-white actors?", and instead asked him about his casting process. This is what he said--
"I guess being a director, in some ways, is like being the captain of a sports team, like a soccer team, and you have to make sure that you have every position covered really well because that will help you to win the game. So I always look on making a film as a partnership and that's what casting is all about, whether it's the star or the guy with one line. And by doing that you enable them to feel confident to try things out and feel free to suggest things. And over the years I've got the best results from actors who really are my partners in the process and it makes it all the more enjoyable. In this instance I'd met Christian four or five years ago when we had a cup of tea together and a rich tea biscuit in LA and he said, 'What are we going to do together?' And I said "well, I'll come up with something.' And it wasn't until five years later when I was thinking about the idea of Exodus and Moses being this kind of larger than life character who, at the same time, has to be played definitively as a very real person, that I thought of Christian and I knew he was the right actor for the role. It's not a fantasy. Ramses certainly wasn't a fantasy and somewhere Moses is very much written down and indicated and believed. So it's a real thing."
Yes, I get it--he wanted to work with Christian. But this is a symptom of a larger issue in Hollywood. And by his answer, he seems to be either willfully ignorant about the entire 'scandal' of the casting, or he just doesn't care. And I guess being a rich, white male in Hollywood affords you that apathy. Lovely.
Source: Huffington Post