Shortly after announcing his plans to direct a movie about first U.S. president George Washington, acclaimed director Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave, Shame) revealed that he intended to cast Idris Elba, known for his roles in Pacific Rim, Thor, and the BBC program Luther, in the starring role.
The film, Washington, will chronicle the titular president’s life over the course of his eight years as President of the United States.
"I’m very excited for this project," McQueen told us. "It goes without saying, this was a monumentally significant period in history, and George Washington was, and continues to be, a very significant figure. I hope I can do it justice."
Following the announcement, the Twittersphere immediately went abuzz in confusion, outrage, and controversy. One person tweeted, “how can you cast a black man? washington was white #smh”. Another said, “damn hollywood. how u gonna change someone’s race? what if we did that 2 other races? they’d riot #hypocrisy”.
However, McQueen responded to this controversy, saying, “I understand it looks like an unusual decision. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t about casting someone who was the right race. We went with the person who was the most talented, the most qualified, and that just happened to be Idris [Elba]. I think people will agree when they watch the movie, he truly captures who Washington was on the inside.”
Washington is scheduled to release December 11, 2015.