Thousands of people signed an online petition asking that a Middle Eastern actor should be cast instead of Leonardo DiCaprio in the upcoming movie about Persian poet Jalaluddin al-Rumi.
Almost 7000 signed the petition seeking the movie’s filmmakers to choose a Middle Eastern actor in al-Rumi’s biopic instead of Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio.
The 41-year-old actor is currently the first choice for the role but the poet’s fans said the casting is “ludicrous” and “offensive”. They claimed it’s another example of “Hollywood whitewashing” as the film industry always casts white actors for historically non-white roles.
Screenwriters David Franzoni and Stephen Joel Brown told the Guardian in an interview they hope to “challenge the stereotypical portrayal of Muslim characters in western cinema” by casting DiCaprio as the poet and fellow actor Robert Downey Jr as Iranian mystic Shams of Tabriz.
The casting of Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia and Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese character in Ghost in the Shell also sparked similar criticism.