Australian actor Joel Edgerton is adamant he can empathise with fans who are calling for a boycott of his new movie Exodus: Gods And Kings over race claims, but insists he was just doing "a job".

An online campaign has been launched calling for a mass boycott of the movie, which tells the Biblical story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, over producers' decision to cast a number of high-profile white stars in the lead roles.

Edgerton, who plays pharaoh Ramses the Great, stars opposite Christian Bale, Aaron Paul and Sigourney Weaver, and supporters of the petition claim black actors have allegedly been restricted to the roles of servants and slaves.

The hastag #BoycottExodusMovie has been picking up speed on, and Edgerton was asked about the controversy during an appearance at the Melbourne International Film Festival in his native Australia on Sunday (17Aug14).

Edgerton tells Australian broadcaster Sbs, "(It is) not my job to make those decisions... I got asked to do a job and it would have been very hard to say no to that job... I do say that I am sensitive to it and I do... understand and empathise with that position."

The story was previously brought to the big screen in Hollywood epic The Ten Commandments in 1956 which also starred white actors - Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner - in the lead roles.