Ridley Scott’s planned followups to Prometheus and Blade Runner are both sitting on a block of ice (…for now); hence, Scott will move from directing the drug crime tale The Counselor – opening this fall – to Exodus, a Biblical epic based on the life and times of Moses. Oscar-winner/former Batman Christian Bale will be headlining Scott’s film as the well-known prophet (featured in the Book of Exodus); meanwhile, Joe Edgerton has been cast as Moses’ adopted brother-turned bitter rival, the Egyptian ruler Ramses.
20th Century Fox has scheduled Exodus to reach theaters just a couple weeks before Christmas Day 2014. It’s a logical move, seeing how movies with overt religious content and/or symbolism has either managed to flourish (see: Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) or turned a profit at the box office (see: The Nativity Story) during previous Winter Holiday seasons. Of course, that means Scott will need to begin principal photography on Exodus in a matter of months, in order to make that premiere date.
Casting for Exodus has certainly begun to pick up speed, as Deadline is reporting that several new actors and actresses are closing out deals to appear in the film. This news comes just two weeks after Edgerton was reported to be onboard; by comparison, five months passed between reports about Bale and Edgerton showing interest in Scott’s project (translation: everything is coming together at a healthy pace). As it stands, the supporting cast for Exodus now looks to include Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) playing the Hebrew slave Joshua, Sigourney Weaver (Avatar) as Ramses’ mother Tuya, Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley (Ender’s Game) as an as-yet nameless Hebrew scholar, and John Turturro (Fading Gigolo) playing Ramses’ father Seti.
Scott has managed to assemble an impressive acting roster for Exodus, though a number of his choices – where it concerns the members of Egyptian royalty and heritage – are bound to open up the can of worms that is the Ancient Egyptians race controversy. Not to mention, the casting of Australian Edgerton as Ramses has already stirred up the longtime debate about when Hollywood casting decisions amount to white-washing history – and how far should filmmakers go, when it comes to balancing the need to be culturally-sensitive with a desire to draw from the strongest acting talent available to them.
For my money, I’ll just point out that all of the people onboard for Exodus are capable of being acting forces to reckon with (when the script/direction is strong). Moreover, with Scott bringing his legendary visual sensibilities to the proceedings – working from a revised script draft that was written by Oscar-winner Steve Zaillian (Moneyball) based on the pitch from Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (Tower Heist) – there’s little to no reason to doubt that Exodus will be a respectful attempt to do right by the Biblical source material – in the hopes of producing a majestic piece of ancient world cinema.
Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts/feelings about the casting for Exodus – be it about the race issues mentioned above or Scott reuniting with Alien star Weaver - in the comments section.
Exodus opens in U.S. theaters on December 12th, 2014.