“The Martian” has a problem, Houston, and its name is the Media Action Network for Asian Americans.
Matt Damon‘s critical and box office darling hit sour notes with the watchdog group, one that tracks how the media portrays people of Asian and Pacific Island descent, over changes to character ethnicities in the film directed by Ridley Scott.
MANAA took Scott to task in an open letter Thursday, incredulous that two Asian characters from the film’s source material — a 2011 best-selling novel by Andy Weir — were portrayed in the film by black, British-born actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and caucasian actress Mackenzie Davis.
“This was a great opportunity to give meaty roles to talented Asian American actors — and boost their careers — which would’ve enabled our community,” MANAA President Guy Aoki said. “This feel-good movie, which has attracted Oscar buzz, shouldn’t get any awards for casting.”
“Was the director afraid that having too many Asian American characters would prevent 20th Century Fox from approving his casting, or that it would be a turn-off to the audience? It didn’t stop the book from becoming a best-seller,” Aoki added.
Representatives for 20th Century Fox, the studio behind “The Martian,” did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.
Casting decisions like those referenced by MANAA have plagued Hollywood of late, as Aoki even pointed to the controversy that enveloped Ridley’s 2014 film “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”