I’m in favor of race-blind casting except when race is a part of the story. And that seems to be the case in a $450 million epic film called “The Gods of Egypt” that takes place in Egypt. But instead of casting people of Middle Eastern ethnicity, the parts of the gods Set (Gerard Butler) , Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldeu), and Ra (Geoffrey Rush) plus Brenton Thwaites as a “common thief” are played by European white actors. As Rebecca Cusey wrote about the casting in “Noah,” it would be nice to see the actors reflect the breadth and diversity of humanity.
Consider “Glee”, a TV show unmistakably self-satisfied with its inclusiveness. Its makers would never have considered having Rachel, the female lead, played by a man in drag. They would not have considered having Mercedes, the most prominent black character, played by a white actress in blackface. But when they cast Artie, the main disabled character, they chose an able-bodied actor and had him sit in a wheelchair and ape the appearance of a disabled person….the most important reason for casting disabled actors as disabled characters does not concern how films will be viewed in the future. It concerns how they are made now. Every time an able-bodied actor plays a disabled character it makes it harder for disabled actors to work. Indeed, if we are okay with disabled roles being played by able-bodied actors, we are okay with disabled actors being prevented from acting at all. Able-bodied actors can play able-bodied roles. Disabled actors cannot. If disabled actors cannot play disabled roles, they cannot play any roles at all—and they are excluded from film altogether.