A debate is raging over Netflix’s new film, The Dig.

It seems wholesome enough, a historical drama based on the Sutton Hoo dig. However, feathers have been ruffled over the casting decision.

Carey Mulligan stars as Edith Pretty, the woman who owned the land the incredible haul was discovered on.

The only problem is, Pretty was 56-years-old. Mulligan is only 35.

In 1939 pretty hired an archaeologist to excavate the grounds of her estate, and the haul that was found changed history and what was known of humans so far.

Ralph Fiennes also stars as the archaeologist, Basil Brown, alongside Lily James, Johnny Flynn and Ben Chaplin.

Viewers are asking why Mulligan is playing Pretty, who died at the age of 59.

The Dig covers the covers the time frame of 1939 until her death in 1942.

Poldark actor Beatie Edney tweeted: “Is it true the real life woman in The Dig, Edith Pretty, was 56 years old? They just won’t allow women over 40 on the screen will they? #ageism #middleagedwomen.”

Other actors soon chimed in, saying how unfair the industry can be to older women on screen.

Double Standards

Others pointed out the double standards when it comes to the men in the film, many of whom are much older than the people they are playing.

The decision to age up Stuary from 29 to 50 also creates a significant age gap between Piggott and his wife Peggy (played by Lily James).

In reality, Peggy was only two years younger than her husband. Chaplin, however,  is 20 years older than James.

It’s worth noting that Carey Mulligan wasn’t the original choice to play Pretty.

She stepped into the role when Nicole Kidman dropped out of the project. Had she stayed, it would have been a more convincing choice, as Kidman is 53.

Others are defending Carey, saying the book the film was based on wasn’t known for accuracy: “It’s quite funny demanding an older actress for the lead role in a movie based on a book which is extremely full of artistic licenses and inaccuracies” one tweeted.

Mulligan defended the age gap between herself and the real Pretty to the BBC: “I suppose there is an age disparity between me and the real-life character, but then the sense of her I think was the most important thing,” she said. “I was aged-up slightly with make-up to try and split the difference a little bit. But it was more important to honour Edith’s character and the humble, generous, extraordinary woman she was.”

Have you watched The Dig? Do you think it’s right that Carey was cast for an older role?

Image via Alamy