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'Gods of Egypt' Director Apologizes for White Cast

The Gods of Egypt director and Lionsgate apologize for the lack of diversity and whitewashing in the movie.

Gods of Egypt sparked controversy for showcasing a predominately all white cast that included Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Australian actor Brenton Thwaites alongside Scotsman Gerard Butler. Following weeks of intense scrutiny and criticism, director Alex Proyas issued an apology, saying, "it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse." The controversy first started in November, when production company Lionsgate released the first look at the film in character posters and a trailer. Actress Bette Midler was among those to call out the filmmakers for casting white men in a movie based on Egyptian gods and goddesses.

"Egyptians, in history and today, have NEVER been white. BRING BACK GEOGRAPHY!! It's Africa!"she said in a tweet.

"Dear Hollywood, Egypt is in Africa. Northern to be exact. Why is that so hard to grasp? Stop gentrifying African countries," former NFL player turned filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry said.

People on Twitter also bashed the movie.

In a statement first reported by Forbes last week, director Alex Proyas acknowledged the controversy. "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," said Proyas, whose director credits include "Dark City" and "I, Robot." Lionsgate also issued an apology.

"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," the company said in a statement. "Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better."

This is not the first time this has happened in Hollywood. In fact, Hollywood has a history of casting European actors to play different races. But thanks in part to social media, critics of "whitewashing" have been able to criticize movies like this in large numbers. Director Cameron Crowe came under fire for casting Emma Stone as a Hawaiian woman who is one-quarter Chinese in "Aloha," prompting him to give an apology. Filmgoers also criticized the choice of white actress Rooney Mara to play the Native American Tiger Lily in "pan," this year's reboot of Peter Pan. It is important to keep in mind that both of those feature films flopped in the box office.

But, director Ridley Scott's response to "whitewashing" the cast of Exodus: Gods and Kings, the Biblical epic starring Christian Bale as Moses and Australian actor Joel Edgerton as Egyptian King Ramses. Scott defended the casting, saying he needed big-name leads in order to get funding for the movie.

But, some say say Lionsgate is a little too late.

"With the caveat that 'It's my film and I can do what I want!' is a perfectly understandable defense and with the understanding that admitting error on an already in-production film doesn't undo the original subject of discontent, it's a little refreshing to see the respective parties just offer a mea culpa," he wrote.

However, if the film turns out to be a hit, "it will be used as evidence that you can get away with this kind of thing and that you shouldn't take the 'risk' of crafting a movie such as this one with ethnically-accurate casts," he said.

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