ENTERTAINMENT
22/01/2020 9:29 AM IST

Actor Laurence Fox Takes Aim At ‘Incongruous’ Inclusion Of Sikh Soldier in Oscar-Nominated 1917

The actor said it was "institutionally racist" to "force diversity on people in that way.”

Fresh from his highly divisive appearance on Question Time, Laurence Fox has taken aim at Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes and his lauded World War I drama, 1917.

The actor has criticised the filmmaker for including a Sikh soldier in his latest movie, which has been nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.

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Laurence Fox

The 41-year-old questioned the film’s storyline and what he describes as the “incongruous” inclusion of a Sikh soldier, Sepoy Jondalar, played by Nabhaan Rizwan, in the ranks of the British forces.

Speaking on writer James Delingpole’s podcast, Fox remarks: ’It’s like, ‘There were Sikhs fighting in this war’ . . . OK, you’re now diverting me away from what the story is.

“There is something institutionally racist about forcing diversity on people in that way.”

He added that the “oddness of the casting” causes a “very heightened awareness of the colour of someone’s skin”.

The actor, who is best known for his roles in the ITV dramas Lewis and Victoria, goes on to praise Rizwan’s performance in the war film.

Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images
Nabhaan Rizwan attends the 1917 World Premiere in London's Leicester Square.

“He’s great in it,” he says, before arguing that having a Sikh appear in the British Army “did sort of flick me out of what is essentially a one-shot film [because] it’s just incongruous with the story”.

Sikh soldiers played a key role in the British Army in World War I, including fighting in the battles of Ypres and the Somme.

Last week, Fox’s appearance on Question Time was criticised by many viewers, after he suggested that to call him a “white privileged male” was in itself racist.

This came during a conversation about the media’s treatment of Meghan Markle, which he was insistent was not rooted in racism.

“It’s not racism. We’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe. It’s so easy to just throw your charge of racism at everybody and it’s starting to get boring now,” he moaned.

Among his public critics was singer Lily Allen, who shared a post on her Instagram story, saying she was “sick to death of luvvies like Laurence Fox going on TV and forcing their opinions on everybody else”.

She wrote: “He’ll never have to deal with what normal people have had to deal with in his gated community. BBC should be ashamed, this is not what we pay our TV license for.

“Stick to acting mate. Instead of ranting about things you don’t know anything about.”

Fox quickly dismissed her post, sharing a screengrab on his own Twitter page with the message: “Lily Allen is the most stunningist and bravery artist in the whole wide world.”