‘Gods of Egypt’ Director, Studio Apologize for Mostly White Cast: ‘We Failed to Live Up to Our Own Standards’

Alex Proyas and Lionsgate address controversy that’s flared up over film starring Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as ancient Egyptian characters

Gods of Egypt

Director Alex Proyas and Lionsgate, the studio behind “Gods of Egypt,” have come out and apologized after the film’s casting prompted online outcries.

The fantasy epic came under fire after placing white actors like Gerard Butler, Brenton Thwaites and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the roles of gods and mortals who set off on an adventure in ancient Egypt.

“The process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse,” Proyas said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made.”

The studio itself came out with even stronger words in its own apology.

“We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize,” the company said. “Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.​​”

“Gods of Egypt” is not the first film to attract criticism over casting white actors in roles that would seem to call for more diverse selections.

Ridley Scott‘s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” came under similar fire when it was released late last year, and his “The Martian” this year was also criticized for casting a white actress in the role of a character who was Korean-American in the book on which the movie is based.

Joe Wright‘s “Pan” was also criticized when he cast Rooney Mara to play the role of Tiger Lily, a Native American.

While Scott and Wright have each been made to answer for their decisions, neither had come out with a full-throated apology the way Proyas and Lionsgate has.

Forbes.com first broke the news of the studio’s apology.

“Gods of Egypt” will be released on Feb. 26, 2016.