Ridley Scott has made his fair amount of press, both good and bad, in his long, illustrious career. Yet each film manages to spark some sort of new debate over the merits of his work, as well as the work itself. Prometheus still stands as a film that's divided sci-fi geeks onto two sides of the issue, with no end in sight. Yet in the case of Exodus: Gods And Kings, the controversy is a more typical, but nonetheless hot button sort of issue that's staring us down every day in Hollywood's PR machine: the lack of diversity in the casting of big budget epics such as this one.
Variety sat down with Scott during his press rounds on his upcoming film, and they've put together a great piece about the man, his work ethic, and the praises of Exodus: Gods And Kings' stars. Buried in this interview is a rather blunt assessment of why he decided not to cast Egyptian actors in his new flick. You can read that quote below.
"I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up."
While Ridley Scott's comment may seem a little bit crass, it's a comment that sums up one of the most recurring issues in the Hollywood machine. In a year that's seen audiences complain about a black Storm Trooper and an MMA fighter take a shot at Gal Gadot's casting as Wonder Woman, the issue of diversity has been pretty much the issue of Hollywood's 2014 in the news. While solutions have come in drips and drabs, at the very least the root causes have become exposed for all of the public to see. Ridley Scott knows that diversity is lacking, and knows that one of the reasons that it's absent in motion pictures is that companies will only throw their weight behind a film they think will sell. And what sells better than a cast of well know actors that everyone knows and respects?
In a perfect world, Scott would have namedropped an Egyptian actor, like Khaled Nabawy who was in Kingdom Of Heaven, but sadly, there just aren't that many famous choices to choose from. Hopefully, Hollywood will start devoting smaller budgets to creating interesting, diverse films, which will produce more interesting, diverse stars, who will then build enough momentum to star in big budget films with a reasonable chance for success.
Exodus: Gods And Kings hits theaters on December 12.