John Oliver Skewers Hollywood for Whitewashing (Video)

“Last Week Tonight” host examines how white actors keep getting cast in parts for minorities

Last Updated: February 22, 2016 @ 8:41 AM

John Oliver dedicated a portion of Sunday’s episode of “Last Week Tonight” to examine the phenomenon of Hollywood casting white actors in roles meant for minorities.

In the buildup to Oscar Sunday, Oliver’s segment pointed out that Jake Gyllenhaal, “a white American with a Swedish last name,” played the title role in “The Prince of Persia.”

It then poked fun at the fact that Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale starred in Ridley Scott‘s Biblical epic “Exodus,” despite both of the main characters being Egyptian. “That was a guy from Australia and a guy from England pretending to be two guys from Egypt–a country in Africa,” the narrator of the segment says.

The segment then goes into the history of such castings, like when John Wayne played Genghis Khan, or when Mickey Rooney infamously played an Asian character in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Finally, the segment looked at times when actors of colors were cast (or rumored to be cast) in roles previously held by white characters and people losing their minds over it, like when Idris Elba was rumored to be in the running to play James Bond or when John Boyega was revealed as the star of “Star Wars.”

Watch the video.