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Chadwick Boseman weighs in on the Gods of Egypt casting controversy

12.07.2015

Members of a films cast or crew apologizing for their film isn't entirely unheard of, but typically that sort of confession arrives after the release date. Alex Proyas' upcoming GODS OF EGYPT isn't set to be released until next year, but it's been making the news in the past few weeks after Proyas and Lionsgate both issued statements publicly apologizing for the films lack of casting diversity. Alex Proyas said that "the process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse. I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made."

Lionsgate added:

We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize. Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.​

The film takes place in ancient Egypt and stars a variety of white actors playing the Egyptian's and their Gods. Gerard Butler, Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Geoffrey Rush all appear in what seems to be the latest instance of "Hollywood white-washing" and Chadwick Boseman, who appears in the film as Thoth the God of Wisdom, spoke with GQ and weighed in on the GODS OF EGYPT controversy.

I generally try to tune things like press controversy out, but some people around me told me, "Hey... you might wanna look at this." And when I originally was approached with the script, I thought this [critique] might come up, I really did. And I'm thankful that it did, because actually, I agree with it. That's why I wanted to do it, so you would see someone of African descent playing Thoth, the father of mathematics, astronomy, the god of wisdom. And in the movie, I actually outnumber the other gods in the movie, literally and figuratively. It's hard for people to know that without seeing it. But yeah—people don't make $140 million movies starring black and brown people.

It was certainly surprising to me that Alex Proyas and Lionsgate responded the way they have, but anything that gets people talking can only be a good thing, unless nothing is learned and we find ourselves commenting on a similar controversy with a different film a year from now.

GODS OF EGYPT is set for a February 26, 2016 release.

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Source: GQForbes

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4:19PM on 12/09/2015
Yeah, this is a little too glaring and obvious that they shouldn't have cast white actors in these roles. They did this with Exodus: Gods and Kings as well, which proved that even credible white actors can't save something that is poorly scripted and paced. This also reminds me of when they cast Tom Cruise and a bunch of British actors in the film Valkyrie, which took me out of the film a little bit because no one even attempted a German accent in that film. Granted, I don't think I could take
Yeah, this is a little too glaring and obvious that they shouldn't have cast white actors in these roles. They did this with Exodus: Gods and Kings as well, which proved that even credible white actors can't save something that is poorly scripted and paced. This also reminds me of when they cast Tom Cruise and a bunch of British actors in the film Valkyrie, which took me out of the film a little bit because no one even attempted a German accent in that film. Granted, I don't think I could take this movie as seriously as Valkyrie or Exodus, but trying to remain ethnically accurate in the casting dept does help to eliminate distractions that take you out of the story, or in this case what little story there may be...
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11:21AM on 12/09/2015
I get it. A lot of movie fans don't like to talk about things that might be more serious than movie quality. "If the actors are good it shouldn't matter." On one level, that's true. It's what acting is. But when millions of people are set to see your movie, and you call it Gods of Egypt, you are setting yourself up for controversy if your main stars are Scottish and Danish.
Furthermore, Boseman, as a black actor, is having a minor celebration that audiences actually WANT to see darker-skinned
I get it. A lot of movie fans don't like to talk about things that might be more serious than movie quality. "If the actors are good it shouldn't matter." On one level, that's true. It's what acting is. But when millions of people are set to see your movie, and you call it Gods of Egypt, you are setting yourself up for controversy if your main stars are Scottish and Danish.
Furthermore, Boseman, as a black actor, is having a minor celebration that audiences actually WANT to see darker-skinned actors portray characters in a part of the world that has historically had people with less-than-Caucasian skin pigment. Maybe one day they'll even make $140 million dollar movies with majority non-white casts.
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3:30AM on 12/09/2015
This is hilarious, controversy over lack of diversity. Is that what people were thinking when they saw the trailer, I was thinking how awful it looked. If I were Black, brown , yellow , blue etc Id be praising the Gods I wasn't in the movie.
This is hilarious, controversy over lack of diversity. Is that what people were thinking when they saw the trailer, I was thinking how awful it looked. If I were Black, brown , yellow , blue etc Id be praising the Gods I wasn't in the movie.
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11:03AM on 12/09/2015
That's what I thought when I saw the character posters (especially Brenton Thwaites with his blond hair). The trailer had a lot more wrong with it.
That's what I thought when I saw the character posters (especially Brenton Thwaites with his blond hair). The trailer had a lot more wrong with it.
1:32AM on 12/09/2015
Look at all the comments from the racist white ppl.sad really.
Look at all the comments from the racist white ppl.sad really.
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2:02AM on 12/09/2015
Get a life. Casting a person just to be pc and cow tow to a certain demographic like they did casting the human torch is moronic. If an actor has the chops for the part then that actor should get the part, no one really complained about the kingpin becoming black in the new daredevil movie or nick fury becoming black after being white for 50 or so years.
Get a life. Casting a person just to be pc and cow tow to a certain demographic like they did casting the human torch is moronic. If an actor has the chops for the part then that actor should get the part, no one really complained about the kingpin becoming black in the new daredevil movie or nick fury becoming black after being white for 50 or so years.
3:34PM on 12/09/2015
Ill get a life, when you stop being a racist deal?
Ill get a life, when you stop being a racist deal?
4:33PM on 12/08/2015
Anyone else thinking about that picture being a way of imagining him in his Wakandian robes?
Anyone else thinking about that picture being a way of imagining him in his Wakandian robes?
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2:11PM on 12/08/2015

Who gives a rats ass

Seriously theres nothing racist about this at all. Its a MYTH you dumb fucks. Let me spell that out for you people incapable of reading and spelling. Thats a M followed by a Y followed by a T and finally a H what does it spell MYTH that means its not real, its not a history buff film, than I could see it being sort of a problem but even still. It's a movie. I bet you if Alex put all BLACKS we complain too all Asians we complain too. Get over it, its a movie it looks badass it looks like a good
Seriously theres nothing racist about this at all. Its a MYTH you dumb fucks. Let me spell that out for you people incapable of reading and spelling. Thats a M followed by a Y followed by a T and finally a H what does it spell MYTH that means its not real, its not a history buff film, than I could see it being sort of a problem but even still. It's a movie. I bet you if Alex put all BLACKS we complain too all Asians we complain too. Get over it, its a movie it looks badass it looks like a good time waster and I'm happy its a MYTH film. Thats that don't get so caught up in brainwashing bullshit.
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12:43PM on 12/08/2015

Hollywood is color blind

It gets a little old listening to people complain that there is not enough racial diversity in film and that it is a racist conspiracy. The truth is the people who make these movies could care less. What they do care is that films with predominately ethnic casts do not perform as well as movies featuring predominately white English speaking white people. That is a fact, to go against it means you have to take a risk, and Hollywood film makers aren't really know for making big budget gambles.
It gets a little old listening to people complain that there is not enough racial diversity in film and that it is a racist conspiracy. The truth is the people who make these movies could care less. What they do care is that films with predominately ethnic casts do not perform as well as movies featuring predominately white English speaking white people. That is a fact, to go against it means you have to take a risk, and Hollywood film makers aren't really know for making big budget gambles.

All that being said, this movie looks terrible. Super cheesy. Gerard Butler at his Gerard Butlerlery-ist ever... This looks like one of those movies where Hollywood thought they were playing it safe, but they are going to find out they are sadly mistaken... The Fantastic 4/ John Carter/ Jonah Hex formula...
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8:29AM on 12/09/2015
Ok if Hollywood cares that ethnically cast movies don't perform as well as white cast movies, then Hollywood is most certainly not color blind. ... derp
Ok if Hollywood cares that ethnically cast movies don't perform as well as white cast movies, then Hollywood is most certainly not color blind. ... derp
9:46AM on 12/08/2015
" But yeah—people don't make $140 million movies starring black and brown people." Unless their names are Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Sam Jackson, Denzel Washington, or... hey, an unknown black actor named John Boyega, star of the biggest movie of the year. So, actually, that's BS.
" But yeah—people don't make $140 million movies starring black and brown people." Unless their names are Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Sam Jackson, Denzel Washington, or... hey, an unknown black actor named John Boyega, star of the biggest movie of the year. So, actually, that's BS.
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10:09AM on 12/08/2015
Pretty sure he means a majority cast of dark(er) skinned actor. All the actors you mentioned are more often than not surrounded by white ones.
Pretty sure he means a majority cast of dark(er) skinned actor. All the actors you mentioned are more often than not surrounded by white ones.
9:06AM on 12/08/2015
Good on Lionsgate for reading online chatter about their films. I think the cultural diversity is one issue of this film, the other is that it looks like an absolute bomb.
But if there's anything this and Exodus can learn, start putting out casting calls from the countries you're portraying in the film.
Good on Lionsgate for reading online chatter about their films. I think the cultural diversity is one issue of this film, the other is that it looks like an absolute bomb.
But if there's anything this and Exodus can learn, start putting out casting calls from the countries you're portraying in the film.
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8:38AM on 12/08/2015

IT'S JUST BUSINESS !

Movies are NOT about art anymore, let's face it !
IT'S JUST BUSINESS, NOWADAYS !!
So, on a business point of view, it's logical.
Most movies with Arabic actors don't do well enough (as in Blockbusters numbers), nor does those with mostly black actors for that matter, to justify the kind of budgets we are talking about.
So this white-washing is LOGIC.
Beside, the Chinese market, now the second biggest in the world, is known for NOT going to non-white cast Hollywood
Movies are NOT about art anymore, let's face it !
IT'S JUST BUSINESS, NOWADAYS !!
So, on a business point of view, it's logical.
Most movies with Arabic actors don't do well enough (as in Blockbusters numbers), nor does those with mostly black actors for that matter, to justify the kind of budgets we are talking about.
So this white-washing is LOGIC.
Beside, the Chinese market, now the second biggest in the world, is known for NOT going to non-white cast Hollywood films.
BUSINESS...
Finally, just for the bad joke... THAT'S FOR GIVING US A BLACK HUMAN TORCH !
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8:41AM on 12/08/2015
I don't care to watch a movie that is "just business." It's not why I became a movie fan.
I don't care to watch a movie that is "just business." It's not why I became a movie fan.
9:47AM on 12/08/2015
I get entirely what you're saying. And frankly I agree that movies today are just business and it's all about making a profit on the movie. But for audiences today, I think they're looking for some authenticity with their films - especially with period pieces.

To speak specifically about Gods of Egypt, when the studio decided to make this movie they should have tried to make it as authentic as possible. If they felt they couldn't make it authentic AND make a profit on the movie - then
I get entirely what you're saying. And frankly I agree that movies today are just business and it's all about making a profit on the movie. But for audiences today, I think they're looking for some authenticity with their films - especially with period pieces.

To speak specifically about Gods of Egypt, when the studio decided to make this movie they should have tried to make it as authentic as possible. If they felt they couldn't make it authentic AND make a profit on the movie - then they should not have made it. To be honest, with or without the right ethnicity in the cast in looks like a terrible movie. I doubt this stands a chance of lighting the box office on fire. So might as well have shot for the moon and given as an ethnic cast.
1:33AM on 12/08/2015
Personally, I just find it annoying for Hollywood to cast actors in roles that don't reflect their characters' actual ethnicity and then ask us to suspend our disbelief. Sometimes you can get away with it. But other times you're asking for trouble. Say you want to do an epic biblical Egyptian movie. If you can't do it with actual Arabic actors then don't do it at all. It just looks plainly ridiculous. I don't see Moses. I see Christian Bale acting as Moses. I don't see Rameses. I see Joel
Personally, I just find it annoying for Hollywood to cast actors in roles that don't reflect their characters' actual ethnicity and then ask us to suspend our disbelief. Sometimes you can get away with it. But other times you're asking for trouble. Say you want to do an epic biblical Egyptian movie. If you can't do it with actual Arabic actors then don't do it at all. It just looks plainly ridiculous. I don't see Moses. I see Christian Bale acting as Moses. I don't see Rameses. I see Joel Edgerton. I don't think it's political correctness, I just see it as making more sense. It's simply more believable.
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9:55AM on 12/08/2015
I get what you're saying - you want more authenticity out of your movies. Can't blame you for that, I think that's true of most audiences today.
I get what you're saying - you want more authenticity out of your movies. Can't blame you for that, I think that's true of most audiences today.
11:58PM on 12/07/2015
This pc bullcrap has to stop! Why does every damn thing have to be an excuse for minorities to whine about not being forced into every damn thing just because they are a minority? If an actor has the talent and presence for the part then that actor should be cast based on that not the color of there freaken skin! Just wait till the lgbtq+ advocates bitch about lgbtq+'s being under cast in films and tv.
This pc bullcrap has to stop! Why does every damn thing have to be an excuse for minorities to whine about not being forced into every damn thing just because they are a minority? If an actor has the talent and presence for the part then that actor should be cast based on that not the color of there freaken skin! Just wait till the lgbtq+ advocates bitch about lgbtq+'s being under cast in films and tv.
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3:45AM on 12/09/2015
They can put all these 'actions' in place such as Positive discrimination and workplaces hiring their quota for employing minorities. But it still makes the issue of colour, when it should be about the best Man for the job. So if someone is White they have to pay for the mistakes of the past? all of which were not committed by the Whites solely,that itself is being racist. I think the less that governments and the media keep going on about the race issue the more likely people will be left to
They can put all these 'actions' in place such as Positive discrimination and workplaces hiring their quota for employing minorities. But it still makes the issue of colour, when it should be about the best Man for the job. So if someone is White they have to pay for the mistakes of the past? all of which were not committed by the Whites solely,that itself is being racist. I think the less that governments and the media keep going on about the race issue the more likely people will be left to just get along. Instead of creating resentment and unfairness amongst groups of people.
11:16PM on 12/07/2015
And I thought people were more upset about the CGI being over used in this film
And I thought people were more upset about the CGI being over used in this film
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10:06PM on 12/07/2015
Considering the director Alex Proyas was born in Egypt, he should technically know better than most the racial makeup of the country, and thus, should have casted in a more diverse manner. And that's without considering he's from a Greek background, and that Hollywood's white-washing of Greek characters (like in Troy) has been something people have been complaining about for decades.
Considering the director Alex Proyas was born in Egypt, he should technically know better than most the racial makeup of the country, and thus, should have casted in a more diverse manner. And that's without considering he's from a Greek background, and that Hollywood's white-washing of Greek characters (like in Troy) has been something people have been complaining about for decades.
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12:04AM on 12/08/2015
Thought occur to you He cast actors who did the best auditions? He cast those who best portrayed the characters regardless of race creed or color? Did you complain about the kingpin being black in the daredevil movie when the character was white for decades? The actor they cast nailed the character perfectly. Merit and opportunity should not be given merely because of skin color but because of skill, talent and ability.
Thought occur to you He cast actors who did the best auditions? He cast those who best portrayed the characters regardless of race creed or color? Did you complain about the kingpin being black in the daredevil movie when the character was white for decades? The actor they cast nailed the character perfectly. Merit and opportunity should not be given merely because of skin color but because of skill, talent and ability.
12:36AM on 12/08/2015
@korollocke the star system in hollywood puts name recognition over talent. You don't always get the best actor to play the role. And regarding your other post, these circumstances are analogous to taking the American Revolution and making all the founding fathers Asian. Sure, an Asian actor might do a great job at the role, but it takes away from the reality that is being portrayed. The other thing it does is that it inhibits good actors from entering the star system. Say we're trying to cast
@korollocke the star system in hollywood puts name recognition over talent. You don't always get the best actor to play the role. And regarding your other post, these circumstances are analogous to taking the American Revolution and making all the founding fathers Asian. Sure, an Asian actor might do a great job at the role, but it takes away from the reality that is being portrayed. The other thing it does is that it inhibits good actors from entering the star system. Say we're trying to cast the Pharaoh of Egypt and we have Jake Gyllenhal audition against an unknown black actor. Black actor is better but gets snubbed because JG has better name recognition and they believe he will fill more seats in the theater. The black actor, despite his talent, is held back from developing his career because a white actor was picked over him. Now, that doesn't matter on the individual level because things like that happen all the time with or without race being a factor. But when race IS a factor, it holds back an entire race of people from being portrayed in film. Remember, the casting choices here were made because they thought the people they chose as leads would fill more seats. The subtext here is that they thought people would only see this movie if white actors were cast as leads. You criticize people for complaining about the casting but keep in mind this film is coming out in February. Ticket sales are pretty dead in February. This film could have easily come and gone without anyone batting an eye. That doesn't matter much for the leads involved because it's a no lose situation. If no one shows up, everyone forgets the film came out. If people do show up it increases their name recognition further. For minority actors who have little to no experience but have the talent to pull it off it can only be a positive for their career. IF we were truly casting based on talent, casting the best black actor would have been positive on all levels: good for the actor, good for the film, and good for the studio. But white washing is making less and less business sense. What sucks is that thats what it takes for things to change.
10:10AM on 12/08/2015
Wow Bah_zam just wow...what a word salad of utter bs! Hate to break it to you but no such thing as white privilege or black privilege ect...grow up. Egypt was – as it is now – a confluence of cultures, as a result of being a crossroads geographically between Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Wow Bah_zam just wow...what a word salad of utter bs! Hate to break it to you but no such thing as white privilege or black privilege ect...grow up. Egypt was – as it is now – a confluence of cultures, as a result of being a crossroads geographically between Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
10:40AM on 12/09/2015
@korollocke: While it may be true that Egypt has always been occupied by various cultures and races, having one of their gods speak in Scottish accent is still too much of a stretch.
@korollocke: While it may be true that Egypt has always been occupied by various cultures and races, having one of their gods speak in Scottish accent is still too much of a stretch.
8:49PM on 12/07/2015
Didn't EXODUS: GODS & KINGS have a similarly white-washed cast? Don't remember people getting upset about the casting on that one
Didn't EXODUS: GODS & KINGS have a similarly white-washed cast? Don't remember people getting upset about the casting on that one
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9:15PM on 12/07/2015
[link]

People definitely had complaints about Exodus casting white people.
[link]

People definitely had complaints about Exodus casting white people.
9:30PM on 12/07/2015
Oh, well then, I was wrong. That's good though
Oh, well then, I was wrong. That's good though
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