When the trailer hit for Ridley Scott’s new Biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” one of the results was an unexpected social media backlash against the apparent “whitewashing” of the cast. Specifically it was the casting of Egyptian royalty, Joel Edgerton as Ramses and Sigourney Weaver as Queen Tuya, that were singled out.
Appearing at the closing night of the Melbourne International Film Festival to present his new film “Felony,” Edgerton spoke with Australia’s multicultural network and news service SBS about the reaction (via The Guardian). He says:
“[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. I do say that I am sensitive to it and I do, I do understand and empathise with that position.”
The ancient Egypt-set story is based on the Book of Exodus from the Old Testament which never specifies which ruler is the ‘Pharaoh of the Exodus’. The most common in popular culture, and the one seemingly being used in the new film, is that of Ramses II (aka. Ramesses the Great, Ozymandias). Debates are still raging to this day regarding Ramses II’s skin and even hair color.
The film also stars Christian Bale as Moses and Aaron Paul as Joshua. It opens in cinemas in December.