This is why Netflix's new film The Dig is facing a backlash

Daniella Scott
·3-min read
Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

From Cosmopolitan

Netflix's latest original film The Dig landed on the streamer just a few days ago (29 January) but already the long-awaited movie is facing backlash for the decision to cast 35-year-old Carey Mulligan as a 56-year-old woman.

Netflix's star-studded new original film, The Dig, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by John Preston, follows the a wealthy widow named Edith Pretty (Mulligan) who hires an amateur archeologist named Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), to excavate the burial mounds on her East Anglian estate. The film is a retelling of the most famous archaeological dig in Britain of modern times: the 1939 discovery of an Anglo-Saxon burial ship at Sutton Hoo, known as "Britain's Tutankhamun".

The film has been long-anticipated, not least for it's star-studded cast which alongside Mulligan and Fiennes includes Lily James, Johnny Flynn, Ben Chaplin, Ken Stott and Monica Dolan. But just a few days after release many viewers have taken to social media to express their disappointment at the decision to cast 35-year-old Mulligan as a 56-year-old woman, with many suggesting this shows that the industry is still unaccepting of women over a certain age.

53-year-old Nicole Kidman was originally cast to play the role, but Mulligan stepped into the role after Kidman pulled out. Although the film has been popular with viewers, many were frustrated with casting decisions, suggesting that placing Mulligan in the lead female role reinforces the idea that the film industry has a tendency to abandon women once they hit their forties. Meanwhile another Twitter user also pointed out that the film casts 51-year-old Ben Chaplin as 27-year-old Stuart Piggott, suggesting that the same issue does not apply to men.

Director Simon Stone previously commented on the issue in an interview with the BBC, saying "John Preston's novel departs from the truth in a lot of aspects and doesn't purport to be absolutely accurate, so the scope for departing from historical accuracy was already there." Meanwhile Mulligan said "I was aged-up slightly with make-up to try and split the difference a little bit. But it was more important to honour Edith's character and the humble, generous, extraordinary woman she was."

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