Ridley Scott’s upcoming Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings—which stars Christian Bale, Aaron Paul, Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley—is facing a similar criticism as many other high-profile Hollywood Bible adaptations: Its casting of predominantly white actors. Now, in an interview with Yahoo, director Ridley Scott has addressed the controversy:

Egypt was—as it is now—a confluence of cultures, as a result of being a crossroads geographically between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. We cast major actors from different ethnicities to reflect this diversity of culture, from Iranians to Spaniards to Arabs. There are many different theories about the ethnicity of the Egyptian people, and we had a lot of discussions about how to best represent the culture.

As SlashFilm points out, his answer isn’t exactly going over well with everyone. Along with commenting on the casting decisions, in the interview, Scott also discusses the religious tension that drew him to the Old Testament story: “The magnitude of Moses’s story, and what he believed, was very compelling. If you place yourself at that particular time—and it was savage times—to believe in one being or higher order, when the Egyptians had a thousand Gods, is incredible” …