On August 21st, actor Ed Skrein announced that he had accepted a role in the upcoming “Hellboy” reboot. A week later, he resigned from the role.
Skrein had been cast as Ben Daimio, an employee of the fictional Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Best known for his role as Ajax in 2016’s “Deadpool,” Skrein seems like he’d be a great fit for what will likely be a high-energy, action-packed “Hellboy.”
But there was one problem… The character, Daimio, is Japanese-American and Skrein is white. Daimio’s heritage plays a pretty big role in his story as well.
For decades now, Hollywood has a long history of whitewashing Asian characters in movies. Skrein made a difficult yet respectable decision to resign from the role.
Hollywood white washing isn’t something new. A lot of recent movies caused an uproar in the Asian American community when Hollywood casted white actors in Asian roles. Some of these films include Matt Damon in “The Great Wall,” Emma Stone in “Aloha,” and Scarlett Johansson’s role in “Ghost in the Shell”.
Hollywood believes that by casting these actors, it will generate more box office ticket sales. Who knows? If this keeps up, you may even see ticket sales decline and even a potential Hollywood boycott.
Skrein announced on his Twitter that after getting messages from “Hellboy” fans, it would be best if he stepped down “so the role can be cast appropriately.”
“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 voices in the Arts,” he wrote. “I feel it is important to honor and respect that.”
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
He added, “Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family.”
It’s definitely not easy to turn down a big role like this, but Skrein did the right thing. Hopefully this will create a movement and inspire other actors and directors to do the same.
It would have probably been pretty easy for Skrein to ignore the criticism and keep the role, but instead, he decided to listen, show some empathy, and break the cycle.
Although this is a small win for Asians in mainstream media, it’s small moves like this that help towards the movement and help make an impact in the world. A big applaud goes out to all of the Hell Boy fans, Asian activists/actors, Ed Skrein, and those that are speaking up to see change in the Hollywood film industry. It’s time to put an end to whitewashing once and for all.