Hollywood is not shy about whitewashing their “hopeful” blockbuster movies. From God’s of Egypt all white “Egyptians,” a white Khan from Star Trek, to an all white cast in Dragon Ball Z. The real life story of 13th century Muslin poet, Rumi is in talks to be turned in a feature length film.
Hollywood screenwriter Dave Franzon has agreed to write the script for this true story. He and producer Joel Brown admit that it is to early to cast but they hope that the main role of Rumi will be played by (finally) Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio.
Everyone loves Leo but came Leo pull off being a Persian poet born in present-dat Afghanistan. For a cherry on top, they also want Robert Downey Jr. to play Shams of Tabriz, who is the Iranian spiritual advisor to Rumi.
Another wonderful actor but to address the elephant in the room… They are both white. They are white men trying to play non-white characters. Not as a metaphor but on purpose.
Rumi was a 13th century poet, who was born in the year 1207 but his works has gained popularity within the past couple of years. He transcends many cultures and his works is relatable to many. He writes about joy and love.
“Across time, place and culture, Rumi’s poems articulate what it feels like to be alive and they help us understand our own search for love and the ecstatic in the coil of daily life,” says Lee Briccetti, who is executive director of Poets House. Briccetti also compares Rumi to Shakespeare for its “resonance and beauty.”
Franzoni definitely agrees with Briccetti. “He’s like a Shakespeare. He’s a character who has enormous talent and worth to his society and his people, and obviously resonates today. Those people are always worth exploring.”
One the Guardian released the story, Twitter went crazy with the story. #RumiWasntWhite became a trending topic. Yes, it can be a difficult task to cast actors who match the exact ethnicity of the character. Wait, no it isn’t.
Night at the Museum casted an actual Egyptian, Rami Malek, to play Ahkmenrah, a Pharaoh in the museum. Salma Hayek in Savages and Forests Whitaker in The Butler are more examples. Even Twilight had some Native American actors in their cast.
Twilight also got into some trouble by misrepresenting some of their cast as Native Americans though. Taylor Launter was publicized as being Native American as a one of the selling factors of the movie. It turns out, he might be partly Native American on his mom’s side, if you look back far enough.
That issue also relates to when a Selena movie was created. The producers and casting agents though they were doing a great job by casting Jennifer Lopez to play the Mexican-American singer. They didn’t understand why the Mexican-American community was angry. Puerto Rican is close enough, right?
Leo and RDJ are amazing actors but they are not the right actors to play this role. There are millions of actors out there. It might take a little searching but the right one is out there for this role.
Hollywood does casts this big names but ethnically wrong actors to try to boost sales. Hollywood needs to realize that diversity sells. Look at Shondaland. Grey’s Anatomy is on its 12th season and doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.