Ed Skrein has exited the “Hellboy” reboot after online outcry that the white actor would play a character who was Asian in the comic books on which the film is based.
The “Deadpool” actor joined the cast of “Hellboy” only last week cast to play rugged military member Major Ben Daimio — which will now be recast.
“I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage,” the actor wrote on Instagram. “It is clear 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.”
He continued, “representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family. It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity…. 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.”
In response to Skrein’s exit, producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin along with Lionsgate & Millennium issued a statement to TheWrap: “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.”
Upon hearing of Skrein’s casting last week, many fans took to social media to call it another example of Hollywood whitewashing.
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Hollywood has faced major backlash in terms of whitewashing: Scarlett Johansson was plagued with months worth of criticism for taking the starring role in “The Ghost in the Shell,” the remake of the classic anime franchise, which some saw as another example of an Asian character being whitewashed to appeal to a larger audience.
Tilda Swinton faced a similar issue when she was cast as The Ancient One in “Doctor Strange.” When the film’s trailer hit the web, fans said casting Swinton was racist because the character was depicted in the comics as being Tibetan — and Swinton is a white British woman.
In April, “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola announced the R-rated reboot of the franchise with Neil Marshall (“The Descent”) as the helmer of the project. Andrew Cosby, Christopher Golden and Mignola are writing the script.
The news came two months after Guillermo del Toro, who directed 2004’s “Hellboy” and 2008’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” with Ron Perlman playing the titular character, announced “Hellboy 3” would not happen.
The first “Hellboy” earned a worldwide total of $99 million at the box office and starred Perlman and Selma Blair. Its sequel performed better, earning $160 million worldwide. Although the movies weren’t runaway smash hits, critics loved them, both earning a score in the 80s on Rotten Tomatoes.
See Skrein’s full post below.