Last week Hollywood Reporter announced that British actor Ed Skrein would be joining the cast the upcoming “Hellboy” reboot as Major Ben Daimio – a character explicitly described as Japanese American in the original comics.
Needless to say, fans were not impressed, and soon the internet was abuzz with posts and articles condemning the decision to whitewash yet another Asian role, in a market where such parts are disappointingly scarce as it is.
Usually, complaints fall on deaf ears in such cases, as filmmakers and actors rush to defend their poor decisions with clichéd responses such as “there was no one more fitting for the role,” or “the character’s ethnicity is not significant for the narrative.” Skrein, however, decided to – in his own words – “do the right thing” and stepped down from the role.
In a statement he released via Twitter on Monday, the actor explains that he was unaware of the character’s background when accepting the part and that he would like his rejection to help make a difference in the industry:
“Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family. It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity. It is my hope that one day these discussions will become less necessary and that we can help make equal representation in the Arts a reality.
I am sad to leave Hellboy but if this decision brings us closer to that day, it is worth it. I hope it makes a difference.”
We are really, really hoping that Hollywood (and the entertainment industry as a whole) will take note of this incident and that more actors will follow Skrein’s example and firmly reject whitewashed parts.