“X-Men” star Nicholas Hoult says he’s proud of his friend Ed Skrein’s decision to exit “Hellboy” because of whitewashing concerns, and offered a deadpan quip: “This is probably a bad time to announce that I’m playing Aladdin, isn’t it?”
Just to be totally clear: Hoult isn’t playing Aladdin. He made the joke while talking with TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman about Skrein’s decision not to play a character who is partly of Asian descent in the comics. The white actor has earned praise for the decision.
“I agree completely with what Ed did, I think it’s very honorable,” Hoult said. “And I’m proud of him for making that decision…. It’s not an easy decision to make, because, you know, we’re trying to get work.”
“But for him to get that role and realize it has been miscast probably on many levels, even though he would have given a great performance, I think it’s important to do that,” said Hoult, who appeared with Skrein in the 2015 crime thriller “Kill Your Friends.”
“By people making sacrifices on their own, then that’s the thing and that’s — to relate it back to Salinger — that’s the thing to not compromise, and not give up your artistic integrity is important,” said Hoult.
In theory, Hoult agrees that actors shouldn’t have to bear the responsibility of accurate casting. “But that just shows what a great guy Ed is even more for him to stand up,” he said.
Would Hoult turn down a role for similar reasons?
“I mean, yeah. If you don’t think you’re right for something then you have to, or if you think there’s something wrong about the casting, then yeah,” he said.
Skrein announced on Instagram Monday that he’ll be stepping down from the role of 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 Monday. “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.”
Actors including Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton have been criticized for playing characters who were not initially written as white.
Hoult is among “Hellboy” actor David Harbour, Jessica Chastain, Riz Ahmed, and several other celebrities who have praised his decision to exit.