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Christian Bale's Thoughtful Remarks on 'Exodus: Gods & Kings' Cast

by
December 9, 2014

Exodus: Gods & Kings

When director Ridley Scott was asked about the whitewashed cast of his Biblical epic Exodus: Gods & Kings, hitting theaters this weekend, his answer didn't really address the large complaints that people had with casting white actors like Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton in the role of Middle Eastern characters. However, he had a pretty blunt response when speaking to the Associated Press about the issue, "I say, 'Get a life.'" Speaking from a business standpoint, Scott said he put together the "best possible cast" for a film with "a budget of this scale." Thankfully, Christian Bale was more thoughtful and diplomatic on the matter.

Speaking with THR (via The Playlist), Bale hopes Hollywood gets to a point where this isn't a problem:

"It would absolutely be a wonderful day of celebration if, within a few decades, we have another Moses and he's a North African or Middle Eastern actor — what a wonderful thing. Ridley is absolutely honest and blunt to a fault, and I think that people, rather than pointing fingers, should ask themselves, are they being supportive of North African and Middle Eastern filmmakers and actors? … The change will come from independent filmmaking, but audiences have to be there. Because once that happens, financiers of bigger and bigger budget films will say, 'We can actually do business here.'"

That's a much more reasonable and respectful response than we expected from the guy who flipped out on the set of Terminator: Salvation. And he actually makes the strong point that audiences have to progress with Hollywood by embracing films that don't have big, well-known, predominantly white cast members, so that actors of other ethnic backgrounds can actually have a chance at getting these kind of roles. Hollywood makes these casting decisions based on box office appeal, not just because they want to exclude these international talents. And so the best way to make progress is to support independent film, where more diverse casts and filmmakers have been getting a chance to shine. Agreed?

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  • Gohikeone
    Did people complain this much about Yul Brynner being a Russian playing an Egyptian?
    • VAharleywitch
      Back then, there weren't that many non-white actors or actresses. That's no longer the case. There are many Israeli actors out there. And many others that aren't Caucasian poster-children (S. Weaver, Bale, etc).
      • Gohikeone
        The mental image of a Caucasian poster-child made me laugh! Really, if the actor can act, I don't care where they are from...give me performance. Leave the race politics to other forums. I think there are several examples where foreign no-names have been cast and succeeded, so it's somewhat a shallow argument for me anyway.
        • R3last
          This may not apply to you, but I see this explanation a lot. " ...if the actor can act, I don't care where they are from...give me performance." That isn't what was said when Idris Elba was cast as Heimdahl, and I'd say he's a damn good actor. There a re a few others as well, but it seems for most that the "performance," being more important than the actor only applies when the actor appropriating a culture is white.
          • Gohikeone
            You're right, it doesn't apply to me. Elba is among the highlights of the Thor universe (his portrayal is great!). Outside of some insignificant fringe group (that no one takes seriously) making an asinine statement about an alien that Norse mythology is cinematically based on, I don't remember too much negative fuss about his casting (other than what the echo chamber media picked up on). Are there unenlightened bigots in media studios, organizations, and comment boards...um, yes. I suspect we could carry on this conversation for days and not agree on casting decisions on a wide range of movies, but who wants to do that? I have a movie to go watch! I guess I would say if someone doesn't like a casting decision, then they shouldn't support the film or the industry that produces it. Vote with your dollars. I dare say all the fanboys that were bemoaning Elba's casting still watched Thor, Thor 2, and all the other Marvel movies as well.
  • Jon Odishaw
    He does make a good point but eat up shit like Slumdog millionaire and Life of Pi. People like Ang Lee and Danny Boyle have shown they know how to make amazing films using foreign, lesser knowns. If Ridley had enough confidence in tis film he could easily have cast straight up Egyptians.
    • OfficialJab
      I think most people go for the CG spectacle anyway - and imagine how much money would be freed up to improve that and add more if they didn't have to pay for Christian Bale.
  • OfficialJab
    The bigger advertising budgets go to the less 'risky' films though, no? People do vote with their dollars, but they only see what previews they're shown. If Hollywood only released films in 2016 that featured honest casting and representation of minorities or whatever other problems people are seeing, I about the same amount of money would come in.
    • dan
      I couldn't agree more! skin color doesn't mean anything - I want good actors making a great movie.
  • Well put!
  • Xerxexx
    Well said.
  • Steven
    Been saying it all along. Honestly I think greater diversity will happen, but these things take time. Support the actors and their films.
    • Have Hope
      naaah
  • DAVIDPD
    No one through a bitch fit when The Rock played Hercules.
    • Have Hope
      ah yes, Hercules...the character that actually existed. Wait a minute...
      • dan
        so, you're saying we need to go get an all-Egyptian cast?
        • Jon Odishaw
          No he's saying we need to cast the Rock in every single role
  • Have Hope
    If the film is well-made enough, the strongest box-office pull is word of mouth. This is ART and not a business. If you make good art and people like it, it does not matter who you cast. IT WILL MAKE CASH. So people would revolt and not watch a film about ancient egypt, starring...ANCIENT EGYPTIANS???
  • ITITtooIT
    FX theme park, franchise slum Hollywood -------------------------REMAINS -------------------------------------- - - - NOWHERE.
  • Bill
    Do we really need movies about nutters thinking some imaginary God wants them to massacre all those before them? It's in the news every day.
  • ErrorSapiens
    Trolling a guy that supports the little people in movie buisness.. well done sirs, I can see you know your judo well. Ah.. the headlock.
  • Monique Sewell
    HMMM- I need to put this in logical sense. A majority of the population in America and a lot of developed countries is white. White people are cast in everything, there is nothing they are excluded from in any context or genre of film good or bad. A small population of most developed countries is black, yet in modern films we are not portrayed more, we are token black people in films that should just have more diversity since we live in one. No one will watch us as super heroes?, We are replaced by overly tanned white people in movies where the characters should have just been black, even the extra's on set in places like Africa and the Caribbean end up being predominantly white! The only film we seem to be able to be dominant in are anything that represents negativity, drugs, rap, violence, gangsta films, slavery and when it comes to award ceremonies the black actors playing the pivotal roles somehow get " BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR" like was this film not about the slave.>>> SO FANS ARE SUPPOSED TO BOYCOTT A FILM TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY, JUST NOT RESPECTED OUTRIGHT. If every black person boycotted a Hollywood film it still would not be enough to be heard and not every white person is concerned or even aware enough to join in on this campaign. I like how the media can worry about the F word, but homosexuality, interracial commercials and them neglecting their duty to portray the world how it actually is is beyond their concern, except in the sense to cover it up, because only a few people who SHARE THE SAME RACIST OPINIONS AS THEM voice their concerns. We know your racist most of you are just too concerned about avoiding a lawsuit to say it, but WE KNOW -_-. If ya'll could get away with casting white people as black slaves, i'm sure you'd do it too, but even ignorant people can draw the line at being ridiculous. But yet we are still not impressed. I'd never watch a movie to boycott most inaccuracies. JUst do BETTER! Its like in order to see black people in a film they have to be A listers like Jamie Fox or Will Smith or produced by Tyler Perry. Who are great but where are the main studio heads in saying "Hey Maybe casting a Spanish Woman as an ETHOPEAN QUEEN! Is very much over reaching. so far cross the line, the line is a dot.
  • Kenneth Peeters
    You all know the Bible is 100% fictitious right? Exodus is entertainment in it's purest form full of spectacular nonsense - judging from the trailer. Who cares what skin color the lead actors have? As long as they pull off their respective roles ... . E.g. 'Noah' surely wasn't Australian according to the Old Testament yet Russell Crowe absolutely naiIed it! I should note I have not seen Exodus at this point but I am planning to see this upon release in Belgium. Scott is a grandmaster is these kind of historical epics (timeless classic Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven which I've recently rediscovered in the far superior director's cut, and even his solid yet much maligned Robin Hood reboot).
  • It was such a silly story that even if they built a time machine and got real ancient Egyptians it still would have not been that good.

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