According to THR, Daniel Dae Kim has officially confirmed that he’s formally accepted the part of Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot. Kim released a statement regarding the recent controversy:
“I applaud the producers and, in particular, Ed Skrein for championing the notion that Asian characters should be played by Asian or Asian American actors. He could not have addressed the issue more elegantly and I remain indebted to him for his strength of character.”
A little more detail regarding the Daimio character, he is a former U.S. Marine officer who, following a paranormal encounter, can change into the form of a jaguar when angered or injured. Daimio is of Japanese heritage, which was detailed in Dark Horse’s B.P.R.D. comics — in this story, Daimio’s grandmother, Yukio Daimio, was a Japanese spy called the “Crimson Lotus” during WWII who tortured and killed many American Soldiers. Consequently, the ethnic backstory takes on greater meaning, which might help to illuminate some of the whitewashing controversy.
Skrein issued the following remarks:
“It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voice in the Arts. I feel it is important to honor and respect that.”
Kim concludes his statement with the news that production is now underway:
“I’m excited to confirm that I’ve officially joined the cast of Hellboy. We start shooting today and I’ll be playing Ben Daimio, alongside our very talented cast, headed by David Harbour, and director, Neil Marshall. Thank you for all the supportive tweets and comments, especially in light of the recent events surrounding its original casting.”
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.”
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).