“Exodus: Gods and Kings” actor Joel Edgerton addressed the race-centric casting controversy surrounding the film during a HuffPost Live interview Monday.
Director Ridley Scott has come under fire for casting white actors — like Edgerton, Christian Bale, Sigourney Weaver and Aaron Paul — in the film’s major roles, while black actors were seemingly left to play slaves and thieves.
Edgerton told HuffPost Live’s Ricky Camilleri he understands both sides of the argument:
On one hand I go, look, I think that’s a valid, valid argument to have, not just about our movie, about Hollywood in general — as long as it’s a progressive one, to have those conversations before movies are made. … The other side of the argument for me is, you give me an opportunity to go work with Ridley Scott and opposite Christian Bale, and don’t take that opportunity away from me once I decide it’s within my grasp. And it’s also just a movie.
Edgerton’s words echoed his sentiment back in August, when he said it was “not [his] job” to consider casting, but that he could “empathize” with people who were dissatisfied. Scott said in November that his casting was a purely financial choice because he can’t get funding for the film if “my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such.”
Edgerton told HuffPost Live that he considered race and casting before taking the part in “Exodus,” just as he has in his previous work, like Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby.”
“I say this about even playing certain American roles, like playing Tom Buchanan. I’m like, I’m an Australian, he’s as blue-blooded American as you can get. What right do I have for that? The gun was so far out of reach, but Baz helped me learn that was closer within my realm,” Edgerton said.
The actor added that religious stories tend to be a lightning rod for debate, and the value of that debate is determined by its intention.
“Sometimes it’s a question of casting down on things before someone’s even come to the material and seen what’s really inside of it,” he said. “And look, that’s fine. Everybody’s able to have an opinion, of course, nowadays because of the Internet.
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with Joel Edgerton.
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