After Oscar-winning director David Fronzi and Hollywood producer, Stephen Joel Brown spoke to The Guardian about casting Leonardo DiCaprio to play Persian poet Jalaluddin al-Rumi, social media went into a frenzy, triggering a hashtag #RumiWasntWhite.
Following the backlash, a source close to DiCaprio confirms that the actor will not be a part of the film. “He hasn’t been asked, but regardless he will not be pursuing the project,” confirmed the actor’s sources to The Hollywood Reporter.
According to reports, thousands of people had signed a petition titled “Hollywood Whitewashing,” urging the filmmakers to drop DiCaprio for the role of the poet, pointing out how Muslim actors are typecast as terrorists or extremists in Hollywood. A collective belief that triggered the petition was that DiCaprio being of Caucasian origin would be unreal as the Persian poet. It was seen as an unfair choice moreover, as it would overrule the many Middle Eastern actors in the industry who’d be right for the role.
Meanwhile, the actor has not commented on the issue and is currently busy with a number of projects including Ben Affleck’s next directorial venture.