In a newly aired episode of Variety’s “Awards Circuit Video Podcast” hosted by Senior Awards Editor Clayton Davis, actor Pedro Pascal sat down with the host to discuss his rapid rise to fame and thoughts on the industry as a whole. One of the topics their conversation touched upon was blind casting, which Pascal supports.
The actor said, “I think that the change is really important and that the best way to continue representation is just casting a person into a role that isn’t limiting a character to racial identity.”
“Especially if it’s an IP we’re familiar with or a book. People get so butthurt about this kind of stuff, but who cares? Because that’s the coolest way of moving the needle is being open about the casting in every way,” said Pascal.
In recent years, casting fictional characters as people of color has been both a celebrated boost for representation and criticized for straying from source material featuring white characters. One notable example of blind casting was the recently released “Little Mermaid” film starring Halle Bailey. Bailey’s Ariel is Black, while the previous Disney cartoon portrayed the character as white, and the original Haans Christian Anderson story did not specify the character’s race.
Many supported Pascal’s thoughts on blind casting, as fictional characters often found within fantasy and science fiction genres tend to have racial identities that are not even specified in the source material. Such was the case with Pascal’s character Joel Miller in HBO’s hit show “The Last of Us.” The original video game portrays the character as white, while Pascal is Chilean.
If race is not integral to story, the best person who auditioned for the job should be hired but people will always cry. That’s alright ???? let them, nobody cares about racist tears pic.twitter.com/YTjDb9YRVF
— Flounder ????????♀️???? (@lazyariel) June 21, 2023
As long as race isn't important to the story, then casting should be race blind – if not accommodating to whoever has the best skills for the role (just as they would a play).
Tell me that The Shawshank Redemption would be the same if Red wasn't Morgan Freeman pic.twitter.com/Nf5Sor4hUn
— NotJustAnyPod on all social media (RIP this site) (@NotJustAnyPod) June 21, 2023
Some even shared their favorite surprise casting choices.
Jeffery Wright as Gordon will always be my go-to example for "if they're the best for the job, then the race is irrelevant".
From the first initial shot of him in The Batman trailer; I immediately recognised him as Gordon. pic.twitter.com/VZUMACghmy
— N-Gin And TonicTM (@NGinAndTonicTM) June 21, 2023
Others appeared to twist his words, joking that Ryan Gosling should have been cast in “Black Panther.” The argument for blind casting is often to diversify fictional narratives that do not contain story elements pertaining to a specific race, whereas the “Black Panther” franchise was written specifically to the Black experience in a fictional context.
black panther needs a recast pic.twitter.com/dGMwRxdRNv
— woo???? (@notlonzoball___) June 21, 2023
Amid the conservative backlash surrounding Pascal’s quote, some Twitter users attempted to provide definitions for blind casting.
Yup, you misunderstood. He's saying the best way to do representation is to not make non-white roles exclusively focus on racial identity.
It's like me, a Latino, feeling represented through the Mandalorian because of Pedro, even though the Mandalorian isn't written to be Latino
— lucky (@denjicordsword) June 21, 2023
Pascal is currently acting in the unnamed “Gladiator” sequel alongside actor Paul Mescal. Shooting began recently in Morocco and Malta.