The next Pharaoh… will come from Vancouver

avanjogiaWe have a King Tut! The Hollywood Reporter says Avan Jogia, a 22-year-old born in my native Vancouver, has been cast as the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who died when he was about 18, in the Spike TV miniseries Tut. He joins the previously announced Ben Kingsley, who will play Tutankhamun’s grand vizier. Interestingly, both of these actors are half-British and half-Indian — and Reece Ritchie, who played the Pharaoh in the recently cancelled Hieroglyph, is a half-English, half-South African actor who has often played Indian characters himself, in films and TV shows like The Lovely Bones, All in Good Time and White Heat. Apparently the casting agents on these shows want to move away from the Caucasian casting that has proved so controversial on films like Exodus: Gods and Kings (coming December 12) and Gods of Egypt (coming in 2016), but they also aren’t inclined to follow the Afrocentrist line which holds that just because Egypt is on the African continent, it therefore follows that the ancient Egyptians must have been just as dark-skinned as the Nubians or Ethiopians, etc. The solution, it seems, has been to cast actors who fall somewhere between the two extremes, pigmentation-wise.

He’s Pharaoh! He’s Moses! He’s somebody else entirely! Ben Kingsley talks Exodus, appears in Night at the Museum trailer

vlcsnap-2014-07-31-22h09m42s196Two movies. Same studio. Coming out only a week apart. Both of them have something to do with ancient Egypt. And both of them star Ben Kingsley in a prominent supporting role.

One of those movies is Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third in the series about a bunch of museum exhibits that come to life at night. The series already has a Pharaoh — Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), who appears in all three films — but Kingsley joins the series as yet another Pharaoh in this newest film.

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Ben Kingsley returns to ancient Egypt — again! — in Tut

Ben Kingsley can’t get enough of ancient Egypt, it seems. First he starred in the 1995 TV-movies Joseph and Moses, playing Potiphar and Moses respectively. Soon we will see him play a Pharaoh in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and the father of Joshua in Exodus: Gods and Kings (both coming in December). And now, as of today, the word on the street is that Kingsley will have a major part in the Spike TV miniseries Tut. Kingsley, who is 70, definitely won’t be playing the titular Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who died when he was about 18. Instead, he will play “Ay, the grand vizier to King Tutankhamun, who wields tremendous power and influence as the top advisor to the young Egyptian ruler.” The miniseries will shoot in Morocco and Canada (!) in the fall, and will air sometime next year.

Exodus: Gods and Kings: new photos, a new Entertainment Weekly profile, and hints of a trailer coming soon

At last, I can finally stop rotating the same three or four pictures of Christian Bale as Moses at the top of my Exodus: Gods and Kings posts!

Entertainment Weekly posted a “first look” at Ridley Scott’s movie today, including five new photos and a handful of interview snippets. The Italian website Cinemamente also posted a couple of behind-the-scenes shots that I had never seen before, including the picture above.

On top of all that, the movie’s first trailer, which was recently shown to exhibitors in Europe, was approved by the film classification boards in at least two Canadian provinces last week. The Alberta website gives the trailer a PG rating and says it runs 90 seconds, while the British Columbia website says it runs 96 seconds, but in any case, it sounds like we’ll all get to see the trailer for ourselves fairly soon.

More pictures and interview snippets below the jump, including Sigourney Weaver as an Egyptian queen, Aaron Paul as Joshua and Ben Kingsley as Joshua’s father.

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From fighting the Crusaders to advising the Pharaohs

Here’s another bit of casting news for Ridley Scott’s Exodus — and one that doesn’t seem to be reflected on the movie’s IMDb page yet.

The Syria Times reports that Ghassan Massoud, who previously played Saladin in Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (2005), has just finished playing one of the Pharaohs’ advisers in Scott’s life-of-Moses movie. This is how the Times describes his character:

Sometimes, he is silent, satisfied with watching everything in an observer’s eye, and other times he talks and gives Ramses advices when necessary. His silence is wanted to be as effective as his talk.

The Pharaohs in the film are Ramses, played by Joel Edgerton, and his father Seti, played by John Turturro. Also, the older Pharaoh’s wife is being played by Sigourney Weaver, while his daughter Bithiah is being played by Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass. As you can see, the casting on this film has been ethnically… eclectic.

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Ben Kingsley set to co-star in his second or third Moses movie; other actors also join Ridley Scott’s Exodus

I haven’t seen it in years, but of all the movies that have been made about the life of Moses, one of my favorites is the Lux Vide production Moses (1995), starring Ben Kingsley. As I said in my review of the film at the time:

For sheer human realism, Kingsley’s is probably the best interpretation of Moses any film has offered to date. He stutters nervously in the Egyptian courts; he wrestles with his doubts when God’s plans seem to fail; he rejoices ecstatically when the Pharaoh’s chariots drown; and he sheds painful tears when the Levites kill their fellow Hebrews for worshiping the golden calf.

So I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu now that Kingsley has reportedly joined the cast of Ridley Scott’s life-of-Moses movie Exodus. Admittedly, he will not be playing the part of Moses himself this time; that role has already gone to Christian Bale. Instead, according to Deadline, Kingsley will play “a Hebrew scholar”.

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