Ed Skrein has decided to take the high road on his casting in the upcoming Hellboy reboot. With the Deadpool star having been a big acquisition for the blockbuster alongside David Harbour in the lead role, the Englishman was all set to take on the role of Major Ben Daimio - a character with Asian heritage.
Following a week of backlash towards the studio and Skrein himself for accepting the part, the actor decided to walk away to avoid any whitewashing scandal. While he was clearly disappointed to abandon a project of this size, he felt it would send a signal to those who would otherwise accept the position.
ES: We Have a Responsibility To Make The Right Choice
The 34-year old has scored some big breaks before, playing the antagonist Ajax in the Ryan Reynolds-led Marvel smash hit after a role in Game of Thrones and The Transporter Refueled. Yet for the sake of his conscious, he could not accept this one.
This is what the actor had to say on social media outlining his decision.
"Last week it was announced that I would be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot," he begun. "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. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.
"Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have 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."
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There is a growing consensus in Hollywood that whitewashing is not just accepted in the industry, but almost encouraged for the sake of financial gain. By casting a well known actor with American or British pedigree, that is said to give more of a windfall at the box office.
This type of thinking is exactly what Skrein is trying to campaign against. It is an indirect critique of Scarlett Johansson (Ghost in the Shell) and Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange), both of which took on Asian characters despite widespread outcry, even prior to their respective cinematic releases.
Let's see if this trend continues.