I find it confounding and disheartening that Hollywood continues to refuse to use actors of African descent to portray citizens of Ancient Egypt. Spike TV’s new miniseries “Tut”, which follows the saga of King Tutankhamun (played by Canadian actor of British-Indian descent, Avan Jogia) during his rise to power, does not break the mold as I would have hoped. Though the casting was nowhere as abysmal as was the case in Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings”, the use of actors of English, Indian and Mexican descent in prominent roles, did not sit well with me.
As Spike TV’s first return to scripted programming, this three-night six-hour miniseries is a coming-of-age story about a boy who is remembered in history as one of the greatest Pharaohs the world has ever seen. King Tut came to power in 1332 BC at nine years old, and was forced to marry his sister in order to ensure a pure bloodline. As history tells us, boy-kings rarely have any true power, as is the case with Tut. For a decade, he is shielded from real politics and decision-making by his advisor Ay (Ben Kingsley), military leader General Horemheb (Nonso Anozie), and the High Priest Amun (Alexander Sidding).
Desperate to become a leader who refuses to hide in the shadows, King Tut comes into his own just as Egypt is on the verge of collapse. While his closest advisors have been plotting against him, a rival tribe – the Mitanni (who are portrayed by dark-skinned Black actors) – has conspired against Egypt, and a deadly plague is quickly approaching Thebes. Tut realizes that he must take control of his kingdom, even if that means turning against his advisors.
While I felt that the series’ creators did themselves a disservice by neglecting to use more actors of African descent, especially in key roles, I wouldn’t entirely dismiss the work.
If you’re a fan of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, you’ll appreciate the power struggle between King Tut and the men (and women) who surrounded him, it’s very much in the same vein as the high council at King’s Landing. Like “GoT”, Spike TV’s “Tut” has epic battle scenes, sultry romances, and even an incestuous story line between Tut and his Sister/Queen Ankhe. As Tut begins to open his eyes (and ears) to the world around him, he becomes aware of the conspiracies against him, as well as his own inadequacies as a leader.
Continue reading at Shadow and Act.