New York (AP) – British actor Ed Skrein has withdrawn from the upcoming “Hellboy” reboot after his casting sparked outcries of whitewashing.
In a lengthy post on his social media channels, 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 honour 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.” Netflix’s release, the Japanese manga adaptation “Death Note” has also drawn 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.