– by David Kozlowski

Cultural whitewashing and casting opportunities for Asian actors is a hot-button topic in Hollywood. Recently, two high-profile actors, Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) and Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica), exited CBS’ Hawaii Five-O in June over a salary parity dispute — they sought equal pay with their white co-stars.

Speaking to Variety, Kim stated his rationale:

“As an Asian-American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well developed, three dimensional character like Chin Ho. I will miss him sincerely. What made him even more special is that he was a representative of a place my family and I so dearly love. It has been nothing short of an honor to be able to showcase the beauty and people of Hawaii every week, and I couldn’t be prouder to call these islands home.”

Related – Ed Skrein Leaves Hellboy Reboot Amid Whitewashing Controversy

Separately, and a bit more recently, Ed Skrein (Deadpool), was cast in the upcoming Hellboy reboot as Major Ben Daimio — a key character in the extended B.P.R.D. universe — who is a former U.S. Marine combat veteran of Japanese descent, as depicted in the Hellboy comics universe. The casting of Skrein in this role reignited the whitewashing controversy, which has also been raised with recent Hollywood productions, such as Dr. Strange, Ghost in the Shell, and Death Note.

Following the uproar over Daimio’s ethnicity, Skrein elected to step down and allow the part to be recast. This was a remarkable situation. Skrein chose to walk away from a key role in a major motion picture — consider that parts like this don’t come around everyday. Skrein’s actions, in a way, also compelled the producers to cut the character entirely, re-cast it with an Asian actor, or otherwise redefine the part.

According to Variety, Kim — who is Korean — is now in talks for the Daimio role; I mention Dae Kim’s heritage as a matter of fact, not to spark any further outcry. This continues to be a very contentious issue, and folks on both sides of the argument have their points. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, consider that there are only about 600 films made in Hollywood each year, and over 100,000 actors in the SAG-AFTRA union — clearly, a lot of actors are vying for very few roles, so this problem is not going away any time soon.

Controversy aside, Kim is a solid actor with a strong action background in shows like Star Trek: Enterprise, 24, Lost, and Insurgent. Kim has also done a ton of voice work in video games and animated projects too. He’s another great addition to Hellboy, which is shaping-up to be a fantastic blockbuster film!

Do you have a position or opinion regarding the ongoing Hollywood whitewashing controversy? How do you feel about Daniel Dae Kim being cast as Major Daimio? Let us know in the comments down below!

Hellboy hits theaters in 2018 (TBD).

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SOURCE: Variety

  • Victor Roa

    but will people watch the film? Hellboy as much as it’s a cult fallowing with it’s fanbase the films with Mignola involved did so so. This whole week of scandal only made it fizzle as a basic internet outrage over something.

    • I grant you, Hellboy appeals to a niche audience (folklore, horror, and R-rated violence). That said, if they do this film right it’s essentially a superhero film combined with Stephen King sensibilities; I think this film could have broad appeal if they market it right (and the story is good, of course). Overall, the cast they’re assembling is fantastic so far, and I’m a fan of Daniel Dae Kim.

      • Victor Roa

        uhhhhhhh…… uhhhhh…… sorry, making a lot of faces. The thing is…. it’s Neil Marshall and he hasn’t really brought in a HUGE Leap outside of Game of Thrones and even his own successes are just as big as Del Toro’s own small word of mouth films.
        Hellboy is a unique thing, like it’s this weird silly jokes of Jack Kirby/Lovecraft/King Kong/Vincent Price/and then classic folk lore of other countries….. already that R rating kinda made it into the whole Dredd fanbase which is still also cult like unlike Deadpool’s who was already the BEST Selling comic book series on a film with broad appeal
        …… I’m probably the biggest Hellboy fan and I don’t think even making it GRITTER is the solution, because I don’t seen Neil Marshall doing Pancakes story. You’re lucky if you get “THAT MONKEY HAS A GUN!” Joke. Darker and Gritter does seem that cynical Logan/Deadpool trend of R rated films which is still industry terms and not…. blah, I’m making faces, there’s a lot of panels in Hellboy that are better then any single horror film ever in the history of man kind, but I doubt Dark Horse would have made a mistake on this, they haven’t screwed up old Big Red so far…. still worried that Mignola is not on board.

  • Nick_SuIIivan

    To avoid complaints, maybe next time they shouldn’t cast a white guy to play an Asian character. Especially since the internet went apeshit when Disney did the same thing. Just a thought.

    • Yeah, I was more than a little shocked at their tone deafness upon casting Skrein in the first place. At least in the end they’re trying to do the proper thing regards to casting and respect for the source material. It also helps that Daniel Dae Kim is a much better actor than Skrein too!

  • Barry Meltfarb

    Casting a Korean actor to play a Japanese character is a little problematic, but not as much as if he were white or Chinese. At least Korean and Japanese people share some ancestry and, possibly, a common linguistic ancestor. Also, I fucking love Daniel Dae Kim.

    • Yerko Vidal Cvitanic

      At least he´s Asian.

  • Yerko Vidal Cvitanic

    Respect the source material

  • Weresmurf

    Hey ah, I’m just going to point this out: Are all asians the same?

    Daniel Dae Kim is *Korean*. Therefor, those complaining about this, should at least be irritated a Japanese man DID NOT GET CAST. Saying “At least he’s asian” is essentially saying “all asians look the same”. They don’t, there’s differences in physiology, dependent on where one comes from. Boy oh boy. This is hilarious.

    • Yerko Vidal Cvitanic

      no, not all Asian are the same – but if the film company has issue getting thing´s done right like hire a actor with Japanese ethnicity that look´s like the character. – The point is, they could hire a Bolivian actor (they look asian) and say that he is Japanese… I hope they get movie right … at least….

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      While not all asians are the same, it’s also worth noting that not all white people, brown people, and black people are the same, and it seems to matter much less as to whether or not the actual ethnicity is the same, as much as the right look. This applies across the board to all colors. It’s not perfect, but a step in the right direction.

      • Kindofabigdeal

        I’m still waiting for my Latino Bond.

        • Joseph Jammer Medina

          We’ll be waiting forever.

  • SaiyanHeretic

    I’m okay with this for the same reason I’m okay with, say, Swedish actor Peter Stormare playing a Russian character in ‘John Wick 2’. Acting is literally playing pretend, so the actor doesn’t have to actually BE the thing he is portraying. A gay actor can play a straight character. A cis actor can play a trans character.

    The most important thing is that the casting itself is not distracting. White-as-fresh-snow Emma Stone playing a mixed race character with Chinese and Native Hawaiian heritage in ‘Aloha’ was distracting. Trying to excuse the whitewashing in ‘Ghost in the Shell’ by hanging a lampshade on it AS A PLOT POINT was distracting. I’m very generous with suspension of disbelief, but not THAT generous. A Korean-American playing a Japanese-American is something I can get over.

    Daniel Dae Kim is a very fine actor, and there need to be more roles open to Asians and Asian-Americans in Western mainstream media, so this is a step in the right direction. And Ed Skrein deserves credit for acknowledging the issue and stepping aside. That was very classy.

    • Kindofabigdeal

      “A cis actor can play a trans character.”
      Roger Roger

      • SaiyanHeretic

        Of course, the implication being that a trans actor can also play a cis character.

  • Kindofabigdeal

    I usually stay out of these conversations but I don’t think it’s fair the Hawaii Five O guys weren’t getting equal pay. I thought this was America.

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.