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HomeBollywood'Wolf Hall' Criticized By Writer For Casting Amir El-Masry As Ancestor

‘Wolf Hall’ Criticized By Writer For Casting Amir El-Masry As Ancestor


The second season of Wolf Hall has created headlines in the UK for its diverse casting — and the latest to speak out is an ancestor of one of the Tudor drama’s characters.

Journalist Petronella Wyatt has written a column in The Daily Telegraph questioning the “absurd” decision to cast Egyptian-born Amir El-Masry as Yorkshireman Thomas Wyatt.

The character was played by Slow Horses star Jack Lowden in Season 1 of the BBC/PBS Masterpiece drama, which premiered in 2015.

Wyatt praised The Crown star El-Masry’s acting credentials, but said color-blind casting for a story rooted in British history was tantamount to “cultural appropriation.”

She said Thomas Wyatt, a 16th-century English politician credited with inventing the sonnet, had “never been east of Calais” in his lifetime.

Amir El-Masry

“I appreciate that it is the job of actors to act, and I have no theoretical quarrel with his being played by Mr El-Masry, who is a fine actor,” Wyatt wrote.

“But diverse casting, if it is to work at all, must have a logical grounding, particularly in an adaptation of a novel that prides itself on historical authenticity.”

She added: “If the logic of modern casting was followed across the board then white actors should also be given roles on the basis of colour-blindness. But in our cowardly new world there is no equity or freedom from moral indignation, no all-embracing tolerance, only snorts and objurgations.”

Other diverse casting decisions for Season 2 include Lady Margery Seymour being played by Sarah Priddy, who is from a mixed heritage British-African family. Nan Seymour is played by Cecilia Appiah, who featured in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light, a Playground Television adaptation of the final novel in Hilary Mantel’s award-winning trilogy, is likely to premiere this year. Mark Rylance is reprising his role as Thomas Cromwell, while Damian Lewis is back as King Henry VIII. 

Mantel, who died in 2022, argued in favor of diverse casting, despite it diverging from the characters she had in her mind at the time of writing her books.

“It’s difficult for me, because to me they’re not characters, they’re people, and I have a very strong sense of them physically,” she said in 2021. “But as soon as you move to stage or the screen, that must yield because you’re in the realm of representation. I think we have to take on board the new thinking.”

Mantel’s first two books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, were combined for Wolf Hall’s first season. It was watched by more than 4M viewers, helping propel Claire Foy to stardom.

The BBC declined to comment.



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