HOLLYWOOD director Ridley Scott has blamed Spanish tax rebates for the allegedly racist casting in his forthcoming Biblical epic.
British-born Scott – director of Gladiator, Alien and Blade Runner – has come under fire for casting white actors in the leading roles of the soon-to-be released Exodus: Gods and Kings.
A social media campaign has accused the makers of ‘whitewashing’ the Exodus story and of ‘cinematic colonialism’.
Batman actor Christian Bale plays Moses, alongside the Australian Joel Edgerton as Pharaoh Ramses II, John Turturro – of Oh Brother, Where art Thou? – as Pharaoh Seti I and Sigourney Weaver as his wife.
Scott insisted the lack of Middle Eastern actors in major roles was dictated by financial concerns.
“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 Mohamad so-and-so from such-and-such,” Scott told Variety magazine.
“I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”
Spain offers a tax rebate to foreign film crews of just 15% – lower than many other EU countries.
France, Hungary and Lithuania all offer rebates of 20%, the UK and Malta offer 25%, while in Ireland film crews can claim rebates of up to 32% from 2015.