Gerard Butler thinks the Gods of Egypt whitewashing backlash was blown out of proportion. It's no secret that Hollywood continues to suffer from whitewashing controversies - the act of casting predominantly white actors in roles otherwise created for ethnic minorities (e.g. Jake Gyllenhaal playing Dastan in Prince of Persia: The Sand of Times). And, for one reason or another, whitewashing is becoming increasingly more prevalent, in spite of constant uproar from critics and audiences alike - and Alex Proyas' Gods of Egypt is the epitome of the issue at hand.
Gods of Egypt released in February 2016 and quickly became a critical and commercial failure for Lionsgate, grossing $150.7 million at the worldwide box office against an estimated production budget of $140 million. Aside from the movie's plot issues and focus on overloading audiences with its use of CGI, Gods of Egypt's box office performance may have been hit hard by its whitewashing controversy, casting actors and actresses such as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Élodie Yung, and Gerard Butler as the Egyptian gods Horus, Hathor, and Set, respectively, among others. And now, the issue has come back to haunt Butler almost two years later.
While promoting his latest movie, Geostorm, Butler briefly discussed the film's diversity with Yahoo! Movies UK, as well as the whitewashing backlash Gods of Egypt suffered. Although he understood the controversy - which Lionsgate and Proyas had apologized for, an unusual move in the filmmaking industry - Butler believes people may have taken their concerns too far.
“No, because I think that was, it was, you know, I understand the movement generally, but you consider our movie, one of our leads was based on an Egyptian God [who] was not black. We had Ethiopians [in the film], we had Egyptians [in the film], we had all different actors from all over the place that was never really - they were from everywhere. So, I thought that was a little too much to try and damage a movie like that, I disagree.”
Whitewashing isn't anything new; it has been around since the dawn of cinema. However, despite constant progress, major studios still tend to back - and actors still tend to join - movies that are clearly meant for ethnic minorities, and Gods of Egypt isn't the only case. For instance, within the past year, blockbuster movies such as Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell, as well as the Netflix movie Death Note, have suffered from the same controversy.
Butler, like everyone, is entitled to his opinion. And while the backlash may have gone a little too far, Gods of Egypt is a prime example of an issue that continues to plague the filmmaking industry, so it was the perfect opportunity for audiences (and actors) to make their grievances known. After all, representation matters, as many recent films have proven. Considering whitewashing continues to be an issue, it's also reasonable that the Gods of Egypt backlash didn't go far enough.
Source: Yahoo! Movies UK