If we had a nickel for every time the word whitewashing was mentioned over the course of a filming project, we’d be rich. But nowadays, it’s a very real concern. Slowly but surely, audiences are becoming aware of the industry’s inclination towards white actors, and they’re making their grievances known. The recently-released manga adaptations Ghost in the Shell and Death Note faced this controversy, and even Hellboy — an American comic — isn’t immune to it.
Last week, it was revealed that Deadpool actor Ed Skrein would be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot, starring David Harbour as the titular Hellboy. The casting decision was immediately met with controversy, as Ben is a character who is of Japanese descent. This controversy — in my eyes, at least — was understandable, as it was yet another case of the industry casting white for Asian, which is especially egregious since it’s a group that isn’t represented nearly enough on the big screen. To take away what few roles they have is a bit irksome.
It sounds like the controversy hit home with Ed Skrein himself, who apparently didn’t realize the character was Japanese in the comics. In a huge decision, Skrein has stepped down from the role, stating the following in an Instagram post:
I have to say, this is HUGE, and I personally have a great amount of respect for an actor who actively stepped down from this role after discovering who the character was in the comic. In the grand scheme of things, the actors are often just bystanders who are looking for work, and are not to blame when they land these types of roles. But to actually give up work in support of portraying the character more faithfully is incredibly admirable. In a world where he would not have been blamed for just going along with this, it means a lot that he took the initiative here.
Of course, with Skrein now out, this puts pressure on director Neil Marshall to actually put forth the effort and find a race appropriate actor. At the very least, it sounds like Lionsgate is supporting this decision, stating:
“Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision. It was not our intent to be insensitive to issues of authenticity and ethnicity, and we will look to recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material.”
All in all, this is a great step forward for Asian representation on the big screen, and we look forward to seeing who they end up picking for this part. But that’s just my opinion. What do you think?
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SOURCE: Ed Skrein, Variety