ollywood has always had a whitewashing problem.
Katherine Hepburn played a Chinese woman in 1944's Dragon Seed. Mickey Rooney perpetuated every negative stereotype as a Japanese character in 1961 in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Johnny Depp played a Native American character in 2013's Lone Ranger, and Emma Stone's character was supposed to be of Asian descent in 2015's Aloha.
Rarely, if ever, are the actors in these roles held responsible for their choice to accept the part. Rather, this whitewashing is seen as a failing on the part of the filmmakers, the casting agents, and the producers.
That all changed yesterday.
Ed Skrein was recently cast in the reboot of Hellboy, which was slated to start production soon.
Skrein is a relatively unknown actor who has only had one or two roles in major Hollywood films thus far, so a role in a comic book film like this could have meant big things for his career.
You may recognize him as the bad guy from Deadpool.
His credits also include Game of Thrones, in which he portrayed Daario Naharis.
But he hasn’t been in much else.
Last week, it was announced that Skrein would be cast in the Hellboy reboot starring Stranger Things actor David Harbour.
Skrein would play Major Ben Daimio, a character who is Asian in the comic books.
Skrein (who’s white) was unaware of the character’s ethnicity when he was cast, but after he found out, he did an amazing thing.
He dropped out of the film.
He released the following statement on his social media accounts:
“Last week it was announced that I would be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming HELLBOY reboot,” he wrote. “I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage. 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. There I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.”
Twitter exploded with love and respect for Ed Skrein's beyond classy move.
In a statement, the film’s studio, Lionsgate, said, “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.”