British actor Laurence Fox (Lewis, Victoria and Becoming Jane) has been offered a history lesson over his criticism of the inclusion of a Sikh soldier character in World War I film 1917, directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.
Fox, the 41-year-old son of actor James Fox (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Patriot Games), complained that the inclusion of a Sikh soldier — Sepoy Jondalar, played by Nabhaan Rizwan — in the movie had distracted him from the storyline, claiming, “there is something institutionally racist about forcing diversity on people in that way.”
The MAMA Project, a U.K. organization working to prevent anti-Muslim attacks, responded to Fox’s complaint by noting that “every sixth British soldier serving in WWI was from the Indian subcontinent,” with a considerable number of Sikhs involved.
History lesson for Laurence Fox:— TellMAMAUK (@TellMamaUK) January 21, 2020
Every sixth British soldier serving in WW1 was from the Indian subcontinent, Sikhs made up more than 20% of the volunteer army (close to 1.5m served).
74,187 Indian soldiers died and a comparable number were wounded.
Photos: UKPHA Archive. pic.twitter.com/NtCRd6mpQs
The tweet included pictures from the United Kingdom Punjab Heritage Association archive of Sikh soldiers serving in the British army during World War I.
Fox, who is also the nephew of The Day of the Jackal star Edward Fox, made the comments on James Delingpole’s podcast The Delingpod claiming there was an “oddness of the casting” to Rizwan’s appearance in the Oscar-nominated film.
He said it gave him “a very heightened awareness of the colour of someone's skin.”
Rizwan’s character engages in a conversation with George MacKay’s Schofield when they share an army transport vehicle as part of the soldier’s ongoing mission.
“It's like, 'There were Sikhs fighting in this war'... OK, you're now diverting me away from what the story is,” he said.
He added: “[Rizwan]'s great in it,” but said the Sikh character “did sort of flick me out of what is essentially a one-shot film [because] it's just incongruous with the story.”
Fox has attracted controversy for his appearance on BBC1’s Question Time last week when he expressed doubt over whether Meghan Markle had faced discrimination in the British press.
And earlier this week he labeled “woke” people “racist” in an interview with Talk Radio.
“I think there is racism everywhere but I don’t think we are systemically racist — but then again I am a straight white male,” he said.
Question Time panellist Laurence Fox: British people are "tired of being called racist by the people we support."— talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) January 20, 2020
Watch in full ► https://t.co/3PrjQHxBAa@JuliaHB1 | @LozzaFox pic.twitter.com/cnQHNug3c2
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