Cleopatra film slammed after Zendaya rumoured to be the lead: "She's not Greek"


A new film on Cleopatra is reportedly being made, and although there has been no official announcement around the film, Zendaya has been cast in the lead role if rumours are to be believed.

The news of the casting has already led to a lot of chatter on social media, with many criticising Zendaya's casting.

According to sources, a production sheet has been found that details filmmaker Denis Villeneuve's next project after the release of Dune: Part II.

As per reports, the Canadian filmmaker's next is Cleopatra for Sony Pictures and he will be working on the script with Napoleon writer David Scarpa. It will be based on the biography Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff.

In fact, Denis had spoken about the project back in 2020 when he was filming Dune. He had said that Cleopatra was actively in development.

“There is of course the second part of Dune, which I hope I have the chance to shoot eventually. But I also have a historical film project on the life of Cleopatra. This project is underway and it excites me a lot. I hope I can bring it to the screen before or after filming the second part of Dune.”

Apart from Zendaya, reports state that Timothee Chalamet will play Octavius and Daniel Craig will be cast as Julius Caesar.

While there has been no official announcement so far, the internet has not taken the news well. Many reactions have been posted on social media with some supporting and criticising the casting choice.

Although some are excited to see Zendaya play the iconic Queen, others have pointed out that her casting is not accurate due to Cleopatra's ethnicity.

“What's hollywoods obsession with casting anyone but Greek people for Cleopatra movies?” wrote a user on X.

“Cleopatra was Greek,” pointed out another X user in the comments.

“I like Zendaya but why does Hollywood stuff around with historical characters? Cleopatra was Greek. She was not African or any other race, but Greek.”

A user also pointed out that the actress “looks nothing like Elizabeth Taylor,” referencing the 1963 epic, starring Elizabeth Taylor.

"Cleopatra was GREEK. Not African, GREEK. How about we make a Shaka Zulu movie and have some blonde haired White guy play him? Stop black-washing real historical figures."

There were some who praised the casting of other actors in the film.

An X user seemed very excited to see Daniel Craig play Caesar and write, “I'm picturing Daniel Craig in the uniform and the Caesar cut, and it's pretty much perfect…”

Cleopatra was born in the Egyptian city of Alexandria in 69 BC and became the last queen of a Greek-speaking dynasty founded by Alexander the Great’s Macedonian general Ptolemy. She succeeded her father Ptolemy XII in 51 BC and ruled until her death in 30 BC.

Afterwards, Egypt fell under Roman domination. The identity of Cleopatra’s mother is not known, and historians say it is possible that she, or any other female ancestor, was an indigenous Egyptian or from elsewhere in Africa.

This report comes only months after Netflix’s series Queen Cleopatra for mixed-ace actress, Adele James, playing Cleopatra.

In fact, it caused such outrage that lawyer Mahmoud al-Semary submitted a case via the Public Prosecutor last week in an attempt to shut the streaming service down in Egypt over the series.

The lawyer claims the docudrama violates media laws and aims to “erase the Egyptian identity”

Greek-Egyptian Queen Cleopatra Netflix

A top archaeologist insisted Cleopatra was “light-skinned, not black”, the BBC reported, but the producer, Jada Pinkett Smith, has suggested “her heritage is highly debated” and James had said: “If you don’t like the casting, don’t watch the show.”

James made the comment in a Twitter post where she also shared screenshots of abusive messages she had received.

READ MORE: Netflix’s Cleopatra director speaks out after backlash over casting.

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