Last week, British actor Ed Skrein, recently of Deadpool, joined the Hellboy reboot currently underway with David Harbour (Stranger Things) set in the lead role and Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) in line to direct.
The casting, broke by The Hollywood Reporter, was an example of whitewashing because the character, Major Ben Daimio, is Japanese-American in the source material.
After the casting was announced, Jeff Yang, a CNN contributor and Editor-In-Chief of secretidentities.org, made a popular Twitter thread calling out the whitewashing, not only in Hellboy, but also within Hollywood in general. He offers various Asian actors that could’ve played the role of Daimio.
This year has seen plenty of controversy, of both whitewashing and cultural appropriation, with Ghost in the Shell, Iron Fist and Death Note, the last of which Netflix released this past weekend. Last year, Marvel and Tilda Swinton also encountered whitewashing backlash in regard to Swinton’s character in Dr. Strange.
While those actors stuck with their projects, Skrein is the first to step down from a role with consideration to whitewashing, at least of a major studio project. He made the announcement on Twitter this afternoon.
Skrein states that he was “unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage” and that, once it had been brought up, he decided to leave the film because of the “worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the Arts.” He says: “It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity.”
Lionsgate also released an official statement along with Skrein’s exit, which can be found with The Hollywood Reporter‘s story.
“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.”
Look below for Skrein’s official statement from Twitter:
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore.