Ed Skrein, who is best known for being the villain in last year’s “Deadpool”, has dropped out of the “Hellboy” reboot after public criticism over his casting to play an Asian character.
The actor, who joined the cast last week, was supposed to play Major Ben Daimio – a Japanese-American rugged military member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense who can turn into a jaguar because of a curse.
In a statement posted on Twitter several hours ago, Skrein said that he had not known that the character was of mixed Asian heritage. “Last week it was announced that I would be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot. I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage,” he wrote.
He continued, “There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement, and I must do what I feel is right. 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 voices in the Arts. I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately. Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family.”
You can read his full statement below:
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
Thank you for doing this, Ed Skrein. It’s such a noble act 🙂
Whitewashing is no new concept. Iconic Asian characters such as the Japanese interpreter (played by Marlon Brando) from “The Teahouse Of The August Moon” in 1956, I.Y Yunioshi (played by Mickey Rooney) from “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” in 1961, and Billy Kwan (played by Linda Hunt) from “The Year of Living Dangerously” in 1983 are all classic examples of whitewashing.
And most recently, Scarlett Johansson was accused of whitewashing when she portrayed Motoko Kusanagi in DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures’ live-action movie adaption of the 1995 Japanese anime and manga classic, “Ghost in the Shell” (攻殻機動隊 Kōkaku Kidōtai, literally “Mobile Armored Riot Police”).
David Harbour (of “Stranger Things” fame), Ian McShane, and Milla Jovovich are attached to star in the “Hellboy” reboot. Based on Mike Mignola’s comic book of the same name, the forthcoming film will be helmed by “Game of Thrones” director Neil Marshall.