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Ed Skrein leaves Hellboy after whitewashing backlash: Didn’t know my role was of an Asian

Deadpool actor Ed Skrein has backed out of Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen after backlash over whitewashing a role that was meant for an Asian.

hollywood Updated: Aug 29, 2017 08:49 IST
Associated Press
Ed Skrein,Hellboy,Whitewashing
A week after his casting in the upcoming Hellboy reboot sparked outcries of whitewashing, Ed Skrein has withdrawn from the film.(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

British actor Ed Skrein has withdrawn from the upcoming Hellboy reboot a week after his casting sparked outcries of whitewashing.

In a lengthy post on his social media channels Monday, Skrein said he accepted the role of Ben Daimio unaware of its Asian heritage. The character Skrein was to play, Ben Daimio, is Japanese-American in the Hellboy comics the films are based on. Critics said Skrein’s casting was just the latest instance of an Asian or Asian-American role being handed to a white actor.

“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,” wrote Skrein. “I feel it is important to honor and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.”

The backlash followed previous controversies including the castings of Emma Stone as a half-Hawaiian, half-Chinese Air Force pilot in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha and Scarlett Johansson as the cyborg protagonist in the Japanese anime remake Ghost in the Shell. Last week’s Netflix release, the Japanese manga adaptation “Death Note” also drew criticism for transferring a Japanese story to Seattle without any Asian actors.

Producers of Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen said they fully supported Skrein’s “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,” said Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Lionsgate and Millennium Films in a joint statement.

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First Published: Aug 29, 2017 08:49 IST