“I think [the casting] really is as craven as ‘we want to make the most money we can, so we can package it in a way to make the most attractive product,’ because that’s what it is for them, product,” says film critic Marshall Fine of Hollywoodandfine.com. “If Ridley Scott and Christian Bale are box office draws, which I question, people will go to see this movie. I think Scott was looking for the biggest name he could get.”
Same as it ever was. Hollywood has a long-running history of putting non-ethnic actors in ethnic roles – the most laughable example being John Wayne as Genghis Khan in the 1956 film “The Conqueror.” But despite a more multi-ethnic society than in years past, and more ethnic actors in the mix than ever before, Hollywood seems to be trapped in a time warp when it comes to minority portrayals, particularly in the case of Arabs and Jews. Just recently, for example, Swedish-Jewish actor Jake Gyllenhaal was cast as the title character in “The Prince of Persia,” and FX’s new series “Tyrant,” set in a Middle Eastern country, stars British-American actor Adam Rayner. Add in the all too many Nordic-looking and non-Semitic portrayals of Jesus – who was, after all, a Middle Eastern Jew, and has been played by everyone from Christian Bale to Max von Sydow, Jeffrey Hunter and Willem Dafoe – and you have to wonder what some filmmakers are thinking.