Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress, has been criticized on social media after it was announced that she was cast to play Cleopatra in the upcoming historical film about the Egyptian queen.
Gal Gadot's new role
The 35-year-old actress confirmed on October 11 that she would play the titular role in a new movie after studio Paramount Pictures won the rights to the film in a bidding war between Warner Bros., Apple, Netflix, and Universal.
The casting for the film immediately drew outrage from social media users, who assumed that Cleopatra was black and North African, as reported by CNN.
According to critics, it was inappropriate for Gadot, a white Israeli woman, to play the role and suggested that the part should be given to an African or black actress instead.
However, the outrage was met with ridicule by other social media users who pointed out that Cleopatra was not black; she was ethnically Greek or Persian.
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Fans who defended Gadot stated that Cleopatra was not black, she was of Greek descent, and that there are effigies of the time on how she looked like, as reported by USA Today.
Journalist Ian Miles Cheong tweeted that he did not understand why people are upset that Gadot, who is not black, will play Cleopatra who is not black either.
Cleopatra is recorded as the last ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. She died in 30 B.C. She was born in Egypt, and she was the daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy XII, a member of the Macedonian Greek royal family that ruled Egypt for 275 years. This means that Cleopatra was fair-skinned.
In paintings and books, Cleopatra was usually described to have ivory skin, which was also seen in depictions of Roman and Ptolemaic goddesses at the time.
Nonetheless, the casting still stirred up negative reactions on Twitter, sparking a debate on the queen's background and real ethnicity, according to the Los Angeles Times.
One twitter user hit back by saying that Cleopatra was Greek. It is true that she was an Egyptian ruler, but she was Greek with Persian and Syrian ancestry. The user added that the people who were reacting negatively to the news were uneducated and uninformed.
An Iranian Australian columnist, Rita Panahi, slammed user Sameera Khan who called Gadot bland-looking after she criticized the decision of the director to cast her instead of a stunning Arab actress like Nadine Njeim.
Panahi stated in a tweet that Sameera Khan did not know that Cleopatra was Greek and still called Gal Gadot very bland looking. Panahi added that pathological hatred of Israel does strange things to people's brains.
Gadot confirmed her role with her followers on October 11 after news of the film's production broke out. She shared the news on her Instagram and Twitter accounts, stating that Cleopatra is a story that she wanted to tell for a long time, adding that she was excited and grateful.
There are still no details released about how Cleopatra will be tackled in this new film. The script is being written by Laeta Kalogridis, who wrote the screenplay for 2004's "Alexander" as well as "Shutter Island" in 2010 and "Terminator Genisys" in 2015.