Another day, another Hollywood white-washing scandal.
Already, Scarlett Johansson's live-action remake of Ghost In The Shell is under fire for A) casting a white woman to play an Asian woman, and B) for allegedly using CGI to make actors appear more Asian. Now, however, there's another one on the horizon that's already sparked outrage.
David Franzoni, who previously wrote Amistad, Gladiator and, uh, Jumpin' Jack Flash, is currently working on a screenplay based on the life of Jalaluddin al-Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet who's the highest-selling poet in the US. As part of his research, Franzoni and producer Stephen Joel Brown have been giving interviews to try and drum up interest in the project and, sure enough, the topic of casting came up. In the role of Rumi and the Shams of Tabriz, a formative figure in the poet's life, two names were mentioned whom the writers want to cast.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr... Yup.
Naturally enough, the news spread out and hasn't been met with the widest embrace from film fans. In fact, many think the whole idea is just plain daft.
White people ruin Ramadan 2016 by announcing their 'Rumi' movie.#RumiWasntWhite pic.twitter.com/1XnxWa8x7O
— Aamer Rahman (@aamer_rahman) June 6, 2016
Also? #rumiwasntwhite #whitewashedOUT
— Constance Wu (@ConstanceWu) June 8, 2016
The reasoning behind both DiCaprio and Downey Jr.'s potential casting is simple. It's more marketable and it puts a recognisable face on a character that doesn't have one. In a recent interview, Franzoni said that "it’s a world that needs to be spoken to; Rumi is hugely popular in the United States."
As it stands, both Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr. haven't commented on their potential casting. Wonder why?