NEW YORK — The biblical film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” has come under fire for casting white actors in the film’s main roles as Egyptians.
Some have even called for a boycott of the film through a variety of Internet campaigns.
But director Ridley Scott has a message for those trying to boycott the film: “I say get a life.”
Scott defended his casting decision at an “Exodus” premiere in Brooklyn on Sunday, saying he had to assemble the “best possible cast ... on a budget of this scale.” The film cost an estimated $140 million.
Christian Bale defended his director, and said working with him is “a true partnership.”
Bale said he always wanted to work with Scott, and was surprised the director wanted to cast him as Moses in the film.
He even remembers being self-deprecating when he heard the news. “This idiot is going to be able to play that iconic of a figure,” Bale said.
“Then I did some research and just found it to be too fascinating to pass it up. I think it would be lunacy to approach this role without having some role of apprehension and being very respectful about it.”
But the Oscar-winning actor understands the controversy over the film’s casting choices, though he sees the business side of it, too.
“No doubt it would have been a melting pot between Europe and the Middle East and North Africa,” Bale said of ancient Memphis.
But he also praised Scott for doing what was necessary to finance the film.
“He’s been incredibly honest in getting a large, big-budget film like this made.”
Bale was alluding to the fact that investors feel safer with big name actors, as opposed to local international stars.
“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.
He said he feels audiences can play a part in helping international actors that are lesser known in the western world get cast in major films.
“If people start supporting those films more and more, then financiers in the market will follow,” Bale said.
“The audience has to show financiers that they will be there, and (then) they could make a large budget film.”
Bale feels the time will come when another film about Moses will be cast with a North African or Middle Eastern actor.
“To me that would be a day of celebration. For the actors it would be wonderful. It would be a wonderful day for humanity, but also for films and for storytelling in general,” he said.