“Really? Me? As a Persian man? We think this is a good idea?” is what it looks like Leonardo DiCaprio is thinking in that picture above.
Because Hollywood clearly hasn’t learned anything from that time they cast Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily , or Rooney Mara as Mary Magdalene, or Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus, or Emma Stone was cast as Allison Ng, or Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Leonardo DiCaprio is being considered to play Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (or simply Rumi) in an upcoming biopic. Yes, that Leonardo DiCaprio. The one you’re looking at above.
Leonardo DiCaprio is about as Persian as the “100% authentic Persian” rugs they sell at a Florida flea market. But that isn’t stopping screenwriter David Franzoni and producer Stephen Joel Brown from casting him as a 13th-Century Persian poet and Muslim scholar who Wikipedia tells me looked like this.
I see Rumi is not impressed with this news either. David Franzoni talked about his dream Rumi casting during an interview with The Guardian. David, who wrote the screenplay for Gladiator, also wants – wait for it – Robert Downey Jr. as Rumi’s Iranian mentor, Shams-i-Tabrizi. Of course, there is a chance they could end up with neither. But that doesn’t mean Rumi and Shams will be played by just any old actors; Stephen Joel Brown says Leo and RDJ “is the level of casting that we’re talking about.”
Forget about the fact that David wants to cast those two as middle eastern men for a second. They say they’re making this movie as a favor to Muslim people. Stephen Joel Brown hopes that their Rumi biopic will “challenge the stereotypical portrayal of Muslim characters in western cinema.” So instead of Muslims playing terrorists, Muslims will be playing…I’m not sure. All I know is they won’t be playing one of the two main characters.
So far, neither Leo nor his people have said anything about whether or not he’s considering being a part of this mess. The internet, on the other hand, has had plenty to say about the possibility of Leo playing Rumi. And just like that, the hashtag #RumiWasntWhite was born. Although I don’t know if they even needed such a specific hashtag. I’m pretty sure a simple “No” GIF would have been sufficient.