Rupert Murdoch and Ridley Scott Defend Decision to Give All of Exodus’s Big Roles to White People

Rupert Murdoch listens to U.S. President Barack Obama make remarks at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting, at the Four Seasons Hotel, on November 19, 2013, in Washington, DC. Obama discussed immigration reform and the health care rollout, among other topics.
Photo: Drew Angerer-Pool/Getty Images

The casting controversy surrounding Ridley Scott’s upcoming Moses movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, gained more fuel over the weekend, with media kingpin Rupert Murdoch jumping in. As the head of 21st Century Fox, which is distributing the film, Murdoch doesn’t understand what the hullabaloo is about, tweeting, “Since when are Egyptians not white? All I know are.”

The tweets come on the heels of a growing controversy surrounding the casting decisions for the Biblical epic, which stars Christian Bale as Moses, Aaron Paul as Joshua, Joel Edgerton as Pharaoh Ramses, and Sigourney Weaver as Queen Tuya. Ben Kingsley, who is part South Asian, plays Nun, but the vast majority of non-white actors appear in the background as slaves or criminals.

Responding to the controversy, director Ridley Scott told Variety, “I can’t mount a film of this budget … 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.” #BoycottExodusMovie has trended on Twitter with accusations that the film is another example of Hollywood whitewashing history.

Joel Edgerton said that he “empathizes” with these reactions. “I do understand and empathize with that position,” he told Australian broadcaster SBS. But, he added, “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.”

Murdoch Defends Mostly White Exodus Casting