Ed Skrein Leaves Hellboy Role to Avoid Whitewashing
The white washing of Asian actors is a problem historic in Hollywood — going from when exclusively white actors played detective Charlie Chan in the 1940’s to most recently — Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell”. This is one role amongst many in the past few years alone — with Dr. Strange’s “The Ancient One”, a Tibetan character played by Tilda Swinton, and Apu from The Simpsons, a character who has been played since 1989 by Hank Azaria. There are so few roles for Asian actors in Hollywood, that giving the few that exist to white actors is particularly insulting, and recently another controversy of this kind of nature reared its head in when Ed Skrein — who famously played Ajax in Deadpool — got cast as Major Ben Daimo in Hellboy. Ben Daimo is a Japanese character, and Ed Skrein is white, and when Ed Skrein heard that he would be whitewashing the role, amazingly, STEPPED DOWN FROM IT, announcing it in a Tweet.
Skrein said amongst other things that — “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”. This is a wonderful move on Skrein’s part, and it follows in the footsteps of Mandy Patinkin leaving the Broadway musical “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” after finding out he was brought in to replace black actor Okieriete “Oak” Onadowan and coming under fire for it. Hopefully as long as artists make the correct choices, there will be more work of actors of non white heritage.
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