Mark Burnett Denies ‘The Bible’ Cast Satan With Actor Who Resembles President Obama
The Bible’s episode on Sunday night featured Mahamen Medi Ouazanni in the role of Satan — and some viewers felt he closely resembled President Barack Obama.
A still of Ouazanni in character as Satan began popping up on Twitter with references to the similarities between him and the President, most notably by right-wing pundit Glenn Beck, who referred to Obama as “That Guy.” Websites also began to question the intent behind the casting, splashing the picture of Ouazanni next to pictures of Obama to encourage comparison.
“It is absolute utter nonsense,” said Roma Downey, the religious actress who created the series with her husband Mark Burnett. “This has been a phenomenal show and a phenomenal hit, and we’ve just been waiting to see what would be thrown at us in terms of trying to discredit the show. I didn’t see this coming.”
Burnett, who donated to Obama’s presidential campaign, also responded to the distasteful suggestion. “This president is a fellow Christian,” he said, according to The New York Times. He also stated that Ouazanni is a well-respected actor in Morocco, and that he had previous experience working in biblical productions, even taking on the role of Satan before.
One criticism that will be harder for Burnett, Downey and History to shake is the general “Europeanizing” of the Middle East in Jesus’s time. Moreover, characters meant to be received in a positive light are often played by white actors in The Bible, while the reverse is true for those characterized by evil – including Satan.