Ed Skrien quits “HellBoy” reboot after he heard the complaints of “whitewashing”
“It is clear that representing 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 voice in the Arts…
It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity. It is my hope that one day these discussions will become less necessary and that we can help make equal representation in the Arts a reality.”
Ed Skrien, a British actor, best known for his role as the original Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones, Season 3; and also the villainous Francis Freeman/ Ajax in Deadpool.
Ed Skrien as Daario Naharis
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in thinking he was an awesome Dario.
The actor was, at first, delighted to join “Hellyboy”
Cries of “Hellyboy Whitewashing”:
The character that Ed was cast to play was called Ben Daimio. This character is Japanese-American in Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” comics. The character’s heritage is central to his backstory. Daimio’s grandmother was a Japanese Imperial assassin in World War 2.
“I guess they want this to fail”
Many immediately objected to the role not going to an Asian-American actor and called it another example of Hollywood “whitewashing” Asian characters. “I guess they want this to fail,” said actress Cindy Chu on Twitter.
To the Asian community especially, this was just another example of Hollywood whitewashing; following Tilda Swinton cast as a Tibetan monk in Dr. Strange; Emma Stone cast as a mixed-Hawaiian in “Aloha” and famously Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell”. The controversy over “Ghost in the Shell” was said to have impacted reviews so much that many attribute it to the film’s disappointing box-office debut.
Not long after being cast and hearing about the controversy, Ed, by his own volition, pulled out from the project.
He posted on Instagram:
Agree with him or not. I’d say that was a pretty gutsy move by the actor who is not such a huge star that you might guarantee he would survive such a controversial move.
Ed Skrien’s message and decision was greeted with a lot of love on the internet, not just from the Asian-American community, but from many in the industry who recognized that it could not have been an easy choice to make.
So much love…
Mr. Skrein’s departure from “Hellboy,” a film about a heroic demon, is the first time in recent years that an actor has publicly backed out of a major Hollywood movie role over concerns about whitewashing. His decision to leave the project was then also supported by the film’s star, David Harbour, who tweeted:
Listen to your audience:
I understand at times, it can be useful to have a big name, a western star to bring a famous Asian story and make it relatable for a western audience.
However, there are incidences where a project would clearly do better if the role was given to an actor of appropriate ethnicity.
I do think Asian-American actors should stop waiting around for Hollywood. To make the changes they wish to see they have to create more and more of their own vehicles. But it does make sense for Hollywood to listen to their audience and stop shooting themselves in the foot when it just makes good business sense.
Huge respect to Ed Skrien for this decision. He proves with his roles in GOT and in Deadpool that there are avenues to make a career, there are roles suitable without stepping on anyone’s toes or holding someone else back.
Maybe this is a sign that change is happening in Hollywood…