Josh Trank said that when he was directing the 2015 Marvel Comics flop “Fantastic Four,” Fox executives gave “pretty heavy pushback” on casting a black actress to play Sue Storm — even though she’s the superhero sister of Johnny Storm, played by Michael B. Jordan.
“There was a lot of controversial conversations that were had behind the scenes,” Trank said in an interview on Geeks of Color released Friday. “When it came down to it, I found a lot of pretty heavy pushback on casting a black woman in that role.”
Kate Mara, who is white, wound up playing the invisibility-powered Sue Storm — and she was explained to be the adopted daughter of Reg E. Cathey’s surgeon Franklin Storm.
“I was mostly interested in a black Sue Storm and a black Johnny Storm and a black Franklin Storm,” said Trank, who was directing his first big-budget studio film following the success of 2012’s “Chronicle,” which also starred Jordan and grossed $64.6 million on a $12 million budget. “When you’re dealing with a studio on a big movie like that, everybody wants to keep an open mind on who the big stars will be.”
The Fox film and TV studio, including all of its Marvel Comics assets, were acquired by Disney in a $71.3 billion deal completed last year.
Trank admitted that he regrets not insisting on casting a black actress in the role. “When I look back on that, I should have just walked when that sort of realization hit me, and I feel embarrassed about that, that I didn’t just out of principle,” he said. “Because those aren’t the values I stand for in my own life. And those weren’t the values then or ever for me.”
Trank, who recently directed an Al Capone biopic starring Tom Hardy, has carved a reputation for speaking his mind, famously criticizing Fox for changes he said were forced on “Fantastic Four” and losing a gig to direct a standalone “Star Wars” film in 2015. “I’m somebody who always talks about standing up for what I believe in, even if it means burning my career out,” he added. “And I feel bad that I didn’t take it to the mat with that issue. Yeah, I feel like I failed in that regard.”
Watch the interview below.
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