‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Director Ridley Scott on Creating His Vision of Moses

Ridley Scott exodus gods and kings

The ideal place to meet Ridley Scott would be on a raging battlefield, in the furthest reaches of outer space, or in the midst of any of the other vast canvases on which he creates his movies.

Instead, we’re sitting in a basement salon at London’s trendy Ham Yard Hotel, where the 76-year-old director has parked himself, however briefly, to discuss his new biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” and to ruminate on his long career.

“You’re probably going to be sitting down, so you’re not going to get a proper sense of him,” actor Christian Bale, who stars in Scott’s new film as Moses, warned this reporter a few days earlier. “You’ve got to see Rid on the move to understand him. He’s totally kinetic. I’m absolutely sure he springs out of bed at 10 times the speed I do.”

Australian actor Joel Edgerton, who plays Moses’ adoptive brother-turned-nemesis Ramses, likens Scott to a shark — not in the predatory sense, but rather because of his need for perpetual motion. “He’s been using his brain in that way for so long, that to him, that equates to normal life,” Edgerton says. “I think he would be uncomfortable if he wasn’t always making stuff.”

So there is something incongruous about the image of Scott, dressed in a plain black T-shirt and khaki trousers, calmly sipping coffee at the London hotel on a recent Sunday morning, the day even God (another prominent character in “Exodus”) found fit for a little R&R. But Scott, true to form, has just flown in from Budapest, where Saturday marked his first day of shooting on “The Martian,” a sci-fi drama featuring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels. By the end of a full day of “Exodus”-related press for his movie, which bows Dec. 2, he’ll be ready to resume production Monday morning.

Where Scott is concerned, life is lived as if Newton’s First Law was one of the Ten Commandments: “If I stop, what am I going to do? Walk a spaniel?” huffs the charmingly brusque director, who says he’s congenitally disinclined to take vacations, and personally reads every script and gives notes on each producer’s cut of all projects produced under his Scott Free Prods. banner. In his peak years as a television commercials director, Scott made as many as 150 spots annually, a pace of work that made dawdling or second-guessing next to impossible. “It was almost like being in sport,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘How many tournaments can I play?’”

By that measure, “Exodus” may qualify as his Olympic Games: a gargantuan 3D event movie made at a cost of $140 million (closer to $200 million before European tax credits) on a shooting schedule (74 days) more befitting a modestly scaled biopic or costume drama. But in working industriously, Scott hasn’t made any compromises. His “Exodus” is at once a work of massive, David Lean-like scale — with dazzling crowd and battle scenes that rival or eclipse Scott’s own 2000 Oscar-winner “Gladiator” — and also a serious-minded moral drama that renders Moses’ journey in more complex emotional and psychological terms (and arguably more in line with the actual biblical version of Moses) than any prior screen version of the tale. That’s especially true with regard to Hollywood’s most famous Moses movie, Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” (1956), in which Charlton Heston played the character as a square-jawed, self-confident action hero to Yul Brynner’s sneering, vindictive Ramses. (An Easter perennial, DeMille’s film still manages to win its timeslot during its annual broadcast on ABC).

For “Exodus” producer Peter Chernin, whose relationship with Scott dates back to his tenure as head of 20th Century Fox (the studio that financed and is releasing the film worldwide), there was only one filmmaker for the job. “I would argue there’s no one in the world who could handle this scale and scope, plus bring out the kind of performances that the roles call for, at the level Ridley can,” he says.

Bale felt invigorated by the director’s speed of production and preference for shooting with multiple cameras, thereby reducing the number of times an actor had to repeat a given scene. “Rid marries an absolute artistry with a total meat-and-potatoes practicality,” Bale says. He also gives high marks to Scott’s crew of many longtime collaborators, including cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, production designer Arthur Max and costume designer Janty Yates. “There’s no doubt about who’s in charge and who has the final say, but there’s a nice sense of collaboration, even on a film as large as this. Usually, collaboration is inversely proportional to the size of the film, in my experience.”

Opening at the start of a very crowded holiday movie season, “Exodus” represents a significant gamble for all parties, who are clearly hoping for a four-quadrant smash closer to “Gladiator” (which grossed $458 million worldwide) than to Scott’s last historio-religious epic, “Kingdom of Heaven,” which earned only $212 million on a reported $130 million budget. The box office gold standard for Bible movies, of course, remains Mel Gibson’s 2004 drama “The Passion of the Christ,” which grossed $612 million globally, and forced Hollywood to take note of a vocal and underserved Christian audience.

Nadav Kander for Variety

But where Gibson’s film was a story of Christian martyrdom made by a true believer for a like-minded public, “Exodus” attempts something riskier and more ambitious: to render, in the most plausible historical terms possible, the life of a man who occupies a vaunted place in each of the world’s three major religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Although Scott’s filmography attests to an ongoing fascination with ancient, God-fearing civilizations and even the origin of the species (the subtext of 2012’s “Prometheus”), the director has called himself an atheist more than once. And while he now prefers the term agnostic, he came to “Exodus” as anything but a convert. Rather, he was compelled by the notion of Moses as a reluctant hero — a nonbeliever like himself who only gradually comes to accept the circumstances of his birth and prophesied destiny, and even then finds himself actively questioning God’s plans and his own role in them. It was also a story rife with contemporary echoes, from the revolutions of the Arab Spring to the latest wars for control of the Holy Land.

For Scott, the process of making the film was akin to walking a mile (or, rather, several hundred) in Moses’ sandals. “I always try to place myself in the position of the central character, and try to come at it from my own logic,” he says. With “Exodus,” that meant fundamentally accepting the existence of Moses and the key events of his life, culminating in the liberated Israelites’ long march from Egypt toward the promised land of Canaan. Says Scott: “Once I accept that, how do I proceed, with the greatest respect to the story? It’s so easy to (give the finger) to religions, and we’ve kind of got to stop that. If you believe, you believe; if you’re faithful, you’re faithful. I don’t care what your religion is. The same if you’re agnostic. That should be accepted too.”

Scott enlisted scribes Jeffrey Caine (“The Constant Gardener”) and Steven Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”) to further develop an original script by the team of Adam Cooper and Bill Collage. That included the addition, at Scott’s suggestion, of Malak (the Hebrew word for angel or messenger), a young boy (played by 11-year-old British actor Isaac Andrews) in whose form God appears to Moses — a bold and potentially controversial decision that allowed the director to avoid depicting the Almighty as “voices from the rocks with thunderous clouds and lightning.” For the most celebrated episode of Exodus lore — Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea — Scott imagined a kind of uber-tsunami, inspired by actual evidence of a massive underwater earthquake off the coast of Italy circa 3000 BC.

Nadav Kander for Variety

Like most high-profile religious pictures since Martin Scorsese’s 1988 “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “Exodus” became the subject of intense media scrutiny before Scott had ever exposed a frame of (digital) film on stages at London’s Pinewood Studios and on location in Spain. Much of the outcry online stemmed from his decision to cast white American, European and Australian actors in most of the key roles, no matter that the same could be said of “The Passion of the Christ,” “Noah,” “The Ten Commandments” and virtually any other big-budget Bible movies. “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,” Scott says. “I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

The director stopped reading his critics long ago, around the time Pauline Kael eviscerated his 1982 “Blade Runner” in the New Yorker. But Kael wasn’t alone in her invective. In its initial release, with its now infamous studio-imposed voiceover narration and “happy” ending, “Blade Runner” earned lukewarm reviews and failed to recoup its then-exorbitant $30 million production cost. By the time Scott’s rehabilitated director’s cut surfaced a decade later, the movie had come to be enshrined as a modern sci-fi classic on par with his own “Alien” (1979).

“I don’t think there’s a filmmaker of my generation or subsequently who wasn’t vastly influenced by Ridley,” says James Cameron, who followed in Scott’s footsteps when he directed the sequel “Aliens” in 1986. “To see ‘Alien’ on opening night in 70mm was to feel you were on that spaceship, and no one had ever done that in science fiction before.” Years later, when Cameron was preparing the first, low-budget “Terminator” movie, he told his team that if you put “Blade Runner” and “The Road Warrior” in a blender, the result would be the movie he hoped to make.

***

Scott was something of a late bloomer, already 40 when his 1977 debut feature “The Duellists” was released, 44 at the time of “Blade Runner” — one possible explanation for why he’s spent the next three decades seemingly making up for lost time. “I think it’s encouraging to a lot of others who haven’t made films yet,” he chuckles. Of his 22 feature films to date, 12 have been made just since 2000.

Scott was born in 1937 in the northeastern English town of South Shields, the second of three sons to Elizabeth and Francis Percy Scott, his father a colonel in the British army’s Royal Engineers, his mother a “five-foot-tall dynamo” who took the lead in raising the boys when their father was away on military business. Scott credits his mother with inspiring his lifelong attraction to strong women, both onscreen and off, from Ellen Ripley and G.I. Jane to his two ex-wives, Felicity Heywood (mother of his director sons, Jake and Luke) and Sandy Watson (mother of his director daughter, Jordan), and his current partner, the Costa Rican actress-producer Giannina Facio. To that roster, Scott adds Kai-Lu Hsiung and Jules Daly, the women who head the London and American offices of Ridley Scott Associates, the prolific commercial production company he formed in 1968.

Young Ridley was a poor student who ranked last in his class for most of his primary and secondary schooling, despite trying to apply himself. But he could draw — a skill noticed by a sympathetic art teacher, who suggested that the teenage Scott transfer to the West Hartlepool College of Art. “I went to art school, and the sun rose,” Scott recalls.

From there, he gained entrance to the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, where his classmates included David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj. Returning home on vacation in 1962, he set to work on “Boy and Bicycle,” a semi-autobiographical, impressionistic short film about a lad from the dreary industrial North who plays hooky from school and escapes into Joycean, stream-of-consciousness reveries as he pedals his bike around the Teesside coast. For his lead actor and equipment-carrying lackey, Scott chose his teenage brother, Tony, who would eventually follow him into the film business, where he would rival Ridley’s box office success. For visual inspiration, he turned to David Lean’s 1946 film version of “Great Expectations,” a movie that had a profound impact on Scott, as Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” would later in ’62. “It was two brothers together all day for six weeks, and you could see it sinking in,” he remembers of the experience. “It was an education for Tony. Suddenly, he had a direction in life.”

If “Exodus” is, at its core, very much the story of two brothers, then so is the life of Ridley Scott. Around the time of “Boy and Bicycle,” he recalls, Tony, an avid mountain climber, invited him on an expedition in the nearby Cleveland Hills. It was a foggy day, and within moments of setting out, Tony had easily scaled a 200-foot cliff face and disappeared into the mist. “Then a rope came down, and I could hear his voice saying, ‘Tie it ’round, up you come,’ ” Scott remembers. He began the ascent but quickly felt his elbows going numb. “I said, ‘I think I’m going to peel off.’ ” He did, at about 100 feet, flipping backward and getting entangled in the rope like a fly in a spider web. “I could hear Tony at the top saying, ‘I think I’ve got you.’ He lowered me to the ground, and he had burn marks on his hands.”

That, says Scott, was the last of his own mountaineering adventures. But his brother kept climbing, including three summits of El Capitan peak in Yosemite National Park. Then, on a Sunday afternoon in August 2012, Tony climbed to the top of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles and leapt to his death. Ridley was at his home in France’s Luberon Valley when he first received a panic-stricken phone call from Tony’s wife, Donna, reporting that his brother was missing — the start of what he calls “the worst weekend of my life.”

Speaking publicly about those events for the first time, Scott calls his brother’s death “inexplicable,” while acknowledging that Tony had been fighting a lengthy battle with cancer — a diagnosis the family elected to keep private during his treatments and in the immediate wake of his death. (Scott previously lost his elder brother, Frank, to skin cancer in 1980, at age 45.) “Tony had been very unwell, actually, and that’s the moment I realized I had to get very close to him again, though we were always close,” says Scott, who ends “Exodus” with an onscreen dedication to his younger brother. Most of all, he says, “I miss a friend. I’d go to him even when he was doing his recovery, and I’d say, ‘F— the chemo, have a vodka martini,’ and he and I would go out.”

***

Talk to enough people about Ridley Scott, and you begin to hear some constant refrains. One is that he knows what he wants and how to get it. Another is his fastidious, almost Kubrickian attention to the smallest details of both design and performance. At his first meeting with Scott, on the stages of London’s Pinewood studios, Edgerton found himself being whisked by the director from one department to another as Scott transformed him into his vision of Ramses, instructing a hairstylist to shave Edgerton’s head, and personally applying black liner to the actor’s eyes.

Gary Oldman, who played a disfigured child-molester in “Hannibal,” Scott’s underrated, darkly funny 2001 sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs,” remembers feeling uncertain about his performance in one scene, only to have Scott assure him that they’d gotten a good take. “He said, ‘No, no, we do have it. I was listening,’ ” Oldman says. “Normally, you would expect a director to say, ‘I was watching,’ but he said, ‘No, I was listening, it’s good, we’ve got it.’ ”

It’s what Scott likes to call “the school of everything” — a certain all-encompassing artistic vision that drew him to the films of Lean, Kubrick and Orson Welles when he was first discovering cinema. “In other words, everything was important, not just the script and the story and the actors, but everything on the screen was suited to the subject,” he says. Little wonder, then, that when he talks about his next project, “The Martian,” he does so with an intricacy of architectural detail that suggests he’s visited the red planet itself. “Oh, I have!” he says, meaning another of the film’s locations, in Wadi Rum, Jordan, where he previously shot scenes for “Prometheus” and where, fittingly, Lean filmed much of “Lawrence.”

Few directors have been plugging away so industriously at or near Scott’s age (he’ll turn 77 on Nov. 30), let alone on projects the size of “Exodus.” Yet it’s one of the curiosities of his career that, for all his success and influence, he has remained something of an outlier with critics and industry tastemakers, who have tended to laud individual films (“Thelma & Louise,” “Gladiator,” “Black Hawk Down,” “American Gangster”) while regarding his body of work with a certain cautious distance — the perception that Scott is more of a highly capable craftsman than a capital-A auteur on par with the masters who inspired him, or his generational contemporaries: Woody Allen, Francis Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese.

It’s been an uneven run for sure — what Hollywood career isn’t? — but if one is to judge Scott by his best work, then he is a filmmaker with few equals. As comfortable in the ancient past as in the distant future, he is the creator of expansive cinematic worlds that, even in his least successful ventures (like 1985’s outre storybook fantasy “Legend”), stretch the imagination and envelop the senses. These are movies in which, as Christopher Nolan recently told the New York Times, “you never feel like you’ve gotten close to the edge of the world.” And they are suffused with images that have burned themselves into our collective cultural consciousness: a chest-ripping stowaway announcing its arrival to the beleaguered crew of the starship Nostromo; spinner cars descending through the rainy, neon-choked vistas of 21st-century Los Angeles; two rebellious travelers in a powder-blue Thunderbird suspended in flight above the Grand Canyon; and, now, 400,000 desert pilgrims of an earlier era trekking toward salvation.

When “The Martian” wraps later this winter, Scott already has a fair idea what he’ll be doing next, though it likely won’t be the much-anticipated “Blade Runner” sequel he developed with the original film’s co-screenwriter, Hampton Fancher. “We talked at length about what it could be, and came up with a pretty strong three-act storyline, and it all makes sense in terms of how it relates to the first one,” says Scott, who adds that fans can expect to see Harrison Ford back in the saddle as the futuristic gumshoe Rick Deckard. “Harrison is very much part of this one, but really it’s about finding him; he comes in in the third act.” Per Scott, that Alcon Entertainment production should go before the cameras within the next year, but with someone else directing (he’ll produce).

Cameron, for one, is eager to see whatever Scott turns his attention to next. “Ridley has continued to be someone I admire more than almost any other director out there,” Cameron says. “Even his minor films I’ll see as promptly as I can, and his major films — his spectacles, or whenever he deigns to do something again in science-fiction — I’ll be first in line. Here’s a guy who’s been vigorous across five decades, and is still going strong. Ridley is who I still aspire to be.”

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  1. ed k blue says:

    Had we known that this movie was produced by non believers we wouldn’t have wasted one second watching any of it. Some didn’t watch the whole movie. Deceitfully produced, and a complete perversion of the Bible. Whatever other movies Scott is involved with is off our viewing list.

  2. Terry Levine says:

    What a weak headline. Perhaps a hint at his racist comment would have garnered more attention.

  3. DéLise says:

    I just saw this abomination of a story.It seems to me Mr. Scott purposely wants to diminish the power of G-d and ridicule the whole account.It being a Hollywood film I didn’t expect total accuracy,the days of Cecil B.De Mille are gone.He and his staff really researched the story of Moses and the Exodus. His list of reference material was long. Besides sticking as close as possible to the Bible he consulted the Midrash, the Prince of Egypt and many other historical and biblical sources. Mr. Scott on the other hand tried to do his best to confuse the story. One who might not have clear biblical knowledge could possibly believe this extremely weak interpretation of a G-d who needed aligators to kick off the plagues, a G-d represented by a squeaky voice kid and an almost absentee, self doubting Moshe.
    Here it’s obvious that Ridley Scott simply wanted to practice some new special effects.Some very important characters were left out of this account. Joshua , who went on to be the general of the Israelites who took over after Moshe’s Death. Aharon the older Brother of Moshe,both Levites and Aharon carried on the priestly line in Israel of which people to this day carry the names related to this tribe and are still recognizable through these names . He made a brief appearance in this so called story. To anyone who really desires to know this wonderful story and appreciate how truly important it is please read the story in the book of Exodus in the Torah (Bible). I belive in artistic freedom but if you want to tell a biblical story do it right. If not create a fairytail. This film is not only an insult to believers it insults peoples intelligence in general. Mr.Scott maybe your god can’t work with out the help of aligators and a low tide but mine can. He’s called the G-d Avraham,Yitz’chak and Ya’akov. Maybe you should get to know Him and learn some respect.

    • I am so disappointed in this film and Ridley Scott, totally agree with you. But being a student of Biblical Hebrew/Archaeology, I am baffled by movies like this since even Cecil B’s days when a character says “Which god?” Every film gets the response wrong, even though the answer appears 7000 times in the original Hebrew Bible and well over 40 times in 3000-year-old paleo Hebrew inscriptions before later rabbinical traditions began hiding the Name that He told Moses would be His name forever, and how He would be remembered. Even 14th Century BCE Egyptian inscriptions attest to the fact that His name was made known to them (Shmot 9:16). The Name, the answer Moses and pretty much every prophet was to speak on behalf of is Jehovah. How would a god who names the stars and brought animals to Adam to watch him name such, someone who put so much emphasis on names leave Himself nameless??? The Tanakh makes clear this was never a nameless God.

  4. mamaT says:

    I loved the visuals. That was excellent and well done. I also enjoyed the wives and the dialogue for them. There wasn’t anything inappropriate and that was good too. However something was off and missing for me. I agree that the Ten Commandments is fantastic and my all time favorite is The Prince of Egypt. That movie is flat out anointed, music too. So many nuances and even though there are times of seriousness, the writers lifted your heart and spirit through song and drama. Sound track is phenomenal. But, what made this movie become a hokey for us was God. Really? A child? Bad, bad creative idea. A total fail! It’s God the FATHER, not God the child. Not sure his point. I laughed and shook my head every time the little boy was on the scene. And what was that he said about going after Pharaoh? Wrong. Did anyone read the book first? Why do people make the huge mistake of going totally off the grid and ruining their own movie? It could have been a smashing hit. No one ever calls me to review their movies first, they should. :-) Creativity is one thing, changing the story is a NO when speaking about the Word of God because his Word does not change.

  5. Sad Sally says:

    Don’t get me wrong I like SCOTT, but there was nothing to like about this movie, the choice of actors, the very dark dirty scenes….the acting, the story, well everything…HOW disappointing this was for our whole family who spent Christmas afternoon in the theatre….entertainment??? most of us were nodding off and it was not from a turkey dinner but a FOUL attempt at creating an epic…just did not do it for us , save your money….don’t even wait for it to come out on stream….not worth a minute of your time…

  6. ralfellis says:

    Scott was correct in his depiction of ‘Euro’ Israelites and Egyptians.

    The Israelites we know, were not black. In fact, they looked like – errr – just like modern Jews.

    As to the Egyptians, Ramesses II was a redhead. When the mummy of Ramesses II was taken to France in 1985 for preservation, it was also forensically tested and the results determined that:

    Quote:
    “Hair astonishinghy preserved showed some complementary data – especially about pigmentation: Ramses II was a ginger haired cymnotriche leucoderma.”

    Professor Pierre-Fernand CECCALDI, Forensic Scientist, Criminal Identification Laboratory of Paris. (Bulletin de l’Academie de médecine – Volume 171, Issue 1. p119)

    So Ridley Scott was correct in his casting and depictions.

    Ralph

  7. willi says:

    I worked for Ridley and Tony as a young camera assistant(ClapperLoader) shooting commercials all over the world. It was huge fun and because of the back to back shooting they put themselves through, they were much in demand, we were so busy we earn t serious money for that time. I gravitated more towards Tony who really did believe in shooting around the clock as he was inexhaustible. He would occasionaly even have a tag team with new crew turning up at 7am to take over from a non stop 24 hours shoot to begin a new 12 hour day. As Tony operated the camera on these marathons I would sometimes find him fast asleep with his eye to the finder giving the impression he was checking the shot. I would tell him often that I was going to be a legendary cameraman one day which would make him chuckle cynically when one day a famous DoP didnt turn up for a commercial shoot. We were waiting around the camera expecting him to arrive when he looked at his watch turned to me and said “Right get your light meter, youre on!” The other members of the camera crew (all senior) looked at me murderously as I scrambled in my bag for the ever present ‘just in case’ meter . The senior member of the crew who was a wonderful character learnt over a said to me quietly, “I was always good to you wasn’t I” as I was now technically his boss. This broke the ice and everyone hooted with laughter. I never looked back and some years later was asked to direct for RSA (Ridley Scott Associates) as a advertising director although I missed the many adventures I had had with Tony who in spite of various challenges, sometimes terrible weather, conditions and clients who who be incredibly demanding never once lost his temper. He was much loved and I would often think on dark days or when work or life was not going smoothly what would Tony do..The day he decided to end his life in the way he did left many of us in terrible shock. Ridley was devastated as was his family.

  8. H L Pearson says:

    Garbage

  9. J says:

    well, you cant really blame Scott re the ‘whitewashing’ in casting. Blame the financiers. They dont take chances on anyone who is not a ‘name’ in a lead role on a budget of this size. its ridiculous but true. I mean, perhaps it would have been wise to cast an african american or british ‘name’ actor in one of these roles (as an egyptian). Thats true. But I do think, in world of financing films, often compromises are made in order to finance.

  10. hotboychina says:

    if you wanna see an actual good adaptation of this biblical story then watch the prince of Egypt

    not only is it accurate and actually has non white people in it (as it should be) the animation is gorgeous

    don’t chalk it down to some children’s film because it’s not
    it’s a serious movie and never got the attention it deserved because people think animation is only for children

  11. IT 2 IT says:

    TOOOOO much art direction.

    TOOOOO many FX.

    TOOOOO little insight.

    Scott remains an art director in search of a script –that he’s READ.

  12. Richard Webber says:

    To all those of you talking about whitewashing, or ethnic simplicity, have a look at the cast list for Exodus. Apart from the key leads, which ARE a financing imperative for the kind of film he wants to make, regardless of his Hollywood status, it’s chock full of Middle Eastern actors. For those of you trotting out the ignorant recycled garbage about style over substance and poor scripting, it just doesn’t hold. Have a proper look at his oeuvre, and it’s impact on cinema culture and innovation. A proper look. The man is a cinematic genius, in the truest sense of the word, with an arguably unequalled skill for harmonising the moving image with narrative and sound. His storytelling is ageless in its facility, old fashioned certainly, but with so many moments of the most memorable weight or beauty, or just plain movie ‘magic’. His influence on filmmakers past and present is extraordinary, and they’ll tell you that. Fincher, Nolan, Mann, Scorsese, the list is long and illustrious. Still, I guess haters gotta hate.

    • Jace says:

      Dude, Middle eastern actors get roles like “servant” and “thief”. A simple look at the cast shows that. Sorry, but trying to justify blatant whitewashing is silly.

    • Gee Es says:

      So racism is awesome when it comes from an artist? Racism is ok when you have profits to maximize? You are really pathetic, you know that don’t you?

  13. jen says:

    ‘Mohammed so-and-so from such and such?’ so he’s a raging racist that believes there isn’t one single big name actor of color in hollywood. Cool, you could have ended the article right there. ‘Alien was actually made by a racist, who knew, come see his movie where an American is once again supposed to be an African man because who wants to see actual Africans, right?’ This is the biggest load I ever heard. You’re being offensive. How about you stop doing that? Because it’s sad and old and stupid. You look like you’re casting John Wayne to play Ghengis Khan, or Johnny Depp to do Tonto. It looks dumb, stop it.

    • M. says:

      @jen
      The Egyptians weren’t African.

      If the Egyptians were African, how could Moses, a Jewish man, possibly blend in with an Egyptian family, to the point where he believed he was Ramses biological brother, and vice versa? He even rose to become a prince in Egypt. How could he have accomplished that, if Egyptians were African?

      • Jace says:

        Kenneth, the Jews descended from the local peoples. They were middle eastern and even darker brown in appearance. The Egyptians were as well (and indeed for some time Nubians – dark black – ruled the land). Don’t spew ignorant nonsense. Moses was not white, the Jews were not white. Period.

      • willi says:

        Moses was/is an Egyptian name it means ‘son of’ Look it up.

      • M. says:

        @Kenneth Redmon

        I’m sorry, but the Jewish are not White, they are of Middle Eastern descent, and the same is true for the Egyptians. They have some mixtures of other ethnicities, respectfully, but they’re from the same continent, and they are not White. Neither were they African, but they were tanned skin.

        Jesus was described as being tanned. So it follows that Moses, and subsequently, the Jewish and the Egyptian, must have been tanned, in order for Moses to have been considered an Egyptian.

      • NAZARITES were purer then snow, they were whiter the milk, they were more rudy in body than rubies, their polishing was as sapphire. Moses and All ISRAELITES were WHITE without a doubt. Egyptians had to have been too.

  14. BillTed says:

    “Young Ridley was a poor student who ranked last in his class for most of his primary and secondary schooling, despite trying to apply himself. But he could draw…”

    Thats interesting.
    Goes a little way to explaining how he can be so visually astute but at the same time narratively illiterate.

    But ridley’s visual skills just aren’t enough anymore.
    There’s hundreds of younger directors that can imitate everything he does visually becasue they grew up on him.

    ridleys utter incompetence with a script and storytelling makes him almost indistinguishable to hundreds of other music video directors with flashy style and no substance.

  15. clicclab says:

    I can’t believe he actually said, “Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such.”
    How is Hollywood gonna change if there’s no one willing to actively do it?
    Plus, “everyone else is doing it”, is NOT a valid argument. There’s some publicist with their hand up the ass of this writer.

    • pearlcream says:

      Or the author may just be a Scott groupie. Either way, I agree that the article is praise piece of fluff and not at all objective, the way it brushes aside the casting controversy and downplays any negatives about Scott and his long body of work.

  16. Cerebus says:

    Scott has contempt for non-whites; boycott his films! Not only are the Egyptians not white in the Pharonic dynasties, but the Egyptianized Hebrews after 400 years of concubinage and enslavement, weren’t white either when Moses was alive. The Brits have a history of racism, so no surprise here. Scott would have a white actor play the role of Nelson Mandela to get, as he says, “financing.”Boycott Exodus!

  17. Seem says:

    Noah co-starred Jennifer Connelly, whose mother was Jewish, and Logan Lerman, who is 100% Jewish. Surely they can play Old Testament characters.

  18. Adam says:

    If you want a film about a Biblical story with realistic ethnicities then it has to be a modestly budgeted independent film.

  19. Ridley Scott has the power to cast anyone he wants. He had a choice between what is right (casting a good actor that even remotely resembles a North African) and what is easy (casting a white A-lister) and he chose wrong.

    • jen says:

      Why? Because all white people are so naturally racist they would never go see a movie with a non-white lead? Or just that religious people are? This is bull. There have been loads of movies that have done awesome with poc in lead roles. At this point, when they do this, it’s because they want to do this. Like in the new Peter Pan movie- there were native american girls who showed up to audition for the role of Tiger Lily, but they said they were looking for a white actress. Why? Because little children are so racist? Because they’d expect to see a white girl after watching the cartoon? No, actually, that’s all really weird. The people making the movie did it themselves because THEY were racist. They shouldn’t desperately shove it on everybody else.

  20. lac says:

    Has he ever hired a person of color for the lead in any of his movies? Seems to me he is too accepting to the status quo. As things change everything stays the same. At least to a certain set of people in this world.

    • Denzel Washington was really the lead in American Gangster. It’s funny, because before the casting controversy, Scott was known as a very progressive director. I mean, whether or not you agree with his casting choices (I’m on the fence myself), it’s hard to argue with his point that the movie doesn’t get financed without marketable leads. That’s Hollywood for you. I’m more concerned with how the actors do. Actors portray people they are not, for a living. I hope we can see an Exodus film in the future with Mid Eastern actors, but I think we are a long ways from that.

      • To Kayode – No one is going to hand Ridley Scott $200 mil before taxes to make an epic, just because he’s “Ridley freaking Scott.” Kingdom of Heaven, which was pretty good, bombed with some big lead names. The Counselor was a cast made up of huge names. Exodus is an incredibly risky movie, so of course, the producers will want to protect their investment.

      • If you’re Ridley “fuckin'” Scott, I can’t imagine you needing the film to be anymore marketable that that. You’re really telling me that RIDLEY SCOTT, one of the most prominent and respected filmmakers of the last half-century, can’t convince financiers to invest in whatever movie he wanted to make, regardless of who he casts?! I’m sorry, I kinda have to call bullshit.

  21. James Cameron is a HUGE FAN of Sir Ridley Scott!…

    Great news!.

  22. “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.”

    That’s the most succinct evidence of and explanation regarding the self-fulfilling prophecy of whitewash-casting I’ve ever read, and it comes straight from the horse’s mouth: Ridley Scott, one of the most commercially-successful and critically-well-regarded directors in the industry, who is mounting a hundred-million-dollar-budgeted biblical blockbuster epic starring Christian Bale, just COULD NOT POSSIBLY MANAGE to cast a non-white actor. Utterly impossible. The whole enterprise would fall apart. They’d laugh him out of the office. Sigourney Weaver would publicly disown him. Harrison Ford would show up weeping on his doorstep. The movie would never get made, and in fact, he’d never make another film again. And also he would be sucked into space and crushed into a singularity. That’s how literally impossible it would be for Acclaimed Director Ridley Scott to cast a brown guy.

    • stylinred says:

      Its not just about Hollywood he’s speaking about tax credits in Spain and the Spanish are very racist, read up about futball and Africans in Spain, They are still hurt that southern Spain had largely converted to Islam and adopted Arab culture all those centuries ago, so Ridley has a point when he’s talking about Spain and his tax credits.

      • M. says:

        That’s ridiculous. Spain, like every country, has its share of racists, but to place them all under that label is irresponsible and borderline racist itself.

        Ridley meant that Hollywood would not let him produce a 200 million dollar film – that would only be reduced to around 150 after tax breaks from Spain – without a big name and/or Anglo Saxon person as the lead. Not that Spain had an objection to non-White actors. There are non-white extras in the film.

        What’s off-putting about this statement (aside from the obvious comment on Hollywoods perspective) is his almost mockish way he describes the Middle Eastern people. “Mohammed so-and-so” is a terrible way to describe the Middle Eastern people. And the idea that someone of his stature would just play along without a fight, makes it seem as if this supposed Hollywood model should just be accepted. No questions asked.

        Also, I’m sure that, after casting Christian Bale, he could have gotten away with casting a Middle Eastern Ramses, or really, any of the other leads, but he just up and cast White for all the main roles.

        I don’t think Ridley is racist, but for a known non-conformist, he sure folded into a horrible conformist model, here.

    • Glenn C. says:

      Well, it’s true. Because of how Hollywood works. Reacts. It’s ALL about the $$$$$$
      The return on their investment. If Ridley chose a non name/star actor whose skin color is brownish it would not SELL. At least as much. Ridley might very well want to cast like this but he knows the odds of getting the film made it not made if he doesn’t follow “the rules”. Not good but that’s the way it is.

  23. LOL says:

    The man can’t tell a coherent story to save his life. That’s why his movies are so popular right now.

    • Quasar says:

      Who the hell wants to hear Scott’s “take” on a Bible story? The Bible story is the story. Common sense. All he can do is ruin a good thing, not make it better. Moronic.

      • stylinred says:

        But the bible was put together years and years and years and years after Jesus’ death so is it really the bibles story?

  24. Glenn C. says:

    The best Director. Sure, he’s had some misses but who hasn’t?? I even liked The Counselor. He is just amazing. Just like how he keeps working at 77!

  25. TONY says:

    ‘Says Scott: “Once I accept that, how do I proceed, with the greatest respect to the story? It’s so easy to (give the finger) to religions, and we’ve kind of got to stop that. If you believe, you believe; if you’re faithful, you’re faithful. I don’t care what your religion is. The same if you’re agnostic. That should be accepted too.”’

    Golden words.

    • Luke says:

      Bullshit. Christian Bale has already sunk this ship and the faithful do not want to see Scott’s “take” on Moses. As good a film as “Noah” was, it was so far from the Bible it was incoherent. Hollywood has some of the smartest people on earth working there, and absolutely some of the dumbest.

      • M. says:

        @Mich
        I believe anyone with an ounce of empathy can imagine the large, confusing, emotional, human struggle of a person with such a large burden to bare. Moses was just a human, after all. Being a believer, as you see it, does not give one a better human perspective on God, or those who followed him, according to stories in a book written by men, whose details were later contradicted by Jesus himself.

        To me, being a believer in, and being, good, amounts to being a believer in God, regardless of whether or not you believe in, or actively worship him. In the end, the ultimate God of goodness is selfless, or else, he cant be the God who represents goodness.

        It’s also why I don’t put faith in the Old Testament, or the Ten Commandments, as it paints God as jealous, and devious, which are not good things, and definitely should not be possible for him.

        I believe all God wants is for people to try their best to be what he is and stands for: Goodness.

      • MIch says:

        If a person is not a believer, s/he cannot even imagine what Moses was thinking or feeling or know how he truly was. If an atheist or agnostic wants to create a new story, a less tainted one you say, that is fine, but don’t call it a Bible story.

      • M. says:

        It’s that outsiders take that gives it the boldness it needs, in order to see Moses as he truly was. I wouldn’t have any interest if it was just the same fantastical, tainted story, otherwise. And I’m sure many others, believer or not, feel the same, as I do.

        I do believe in God, by the way, but I’m not religious.

      • MIch says:

        I don’t want to see or hear an atheist’s or an agnostic’s take on a Bible story.

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