Renowned Egyptologist Weighs In On Angelina As Cleopatra

Illustration for article titled Renowned Egyptologist Weighs In On Angelina As Cleopatra

We recently looked at some reasons that Angelina Jolie might not be the best choice to play Cleopatra in a new major motion picture. But what does noted Egyptologist Dr. Sally-Ann Ashton think?


Dr. Ashton, of Cambridge Univeristy, has done extensive research on Cleopatra. She is a Senior Assistant Keeper in the Department of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, has written numerous books about Ancient Egypt in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods and is responsible for commissioning the digital image of Cleopatra in which her skin is brown.

When asked about the casting of Angelina Jolie, Dr. Ashton replied, via email:

I'd rather hold judgment until it's out. Angelina Jolie did after all (bizarrely) already play someone of African Ancestory. In general though I feel that it would be a great pity for the film makers not to break with the stereotype of Cleopatra as a European femme fatale. I sincerely hope that they will take all of the recent research into consideration.

Well, Hollywood being Hollywood, we doubt that will happen. But, you know: Hope springs eternal!

Earlier: Angelina As Cleopatra? Yes. And No.
Portrait Of A Lady


[Digital images via Image Foundry Studios]


A Small Turnip

Ashton may be spot-on about Cleopatra, but Jesus Christ, the snide little "(bizarrely)" is deeply unpleasant and totally unnecessary. If she's referring to Jolie playing Mariane Pearl, she also happens to be massively off the mark. Pearl's dad is Dutch-Jewish, and her mum is Afro-Chinese-Cuban. She's a complicated woman for a lot of reasons, so to simply classify her as someone of "African Ancestry [sic]" is pretty reductive, and doesn't urge me to give much credence to whatever else Ashton has to say.