Caucasian actor Ed Skrein was cast as Asian American character Ben Daimio, a member of the B.P.R.D. for Lionsgate’s reboot of ‘Hellboy’, but he quickly departed after outcry against this case of Hollywood whitewashing. To replace him, the production wisely decided to stick to the source material and cast one of the most recognizable Asian American actors around, Daniel Dae Kim (‘Lost’, ‘Hawaii-Five.0’).
Upon landing the gig, Kim stated:
“I applaud the producers and, in particular, Ed Skrein for championing the notion that Asian characters should be played by Asian or Asian American actors. He could not have addressed the issue more elegantly and I remain indebted to him for his strength of character.”
The comments that Kim is referring to were delivered by Skrein in a statement after he chose to step down from the role:
“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. I feel it is important to honor and respect that.”
This controversy follows a number of charges of whitewashing over the past couple of years, including the casting of Scarlett Johansson in ‘Ghost In the Shell’, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in ‘Doctor Strange’, the casting of all non-Asian characters in the U.S. adaptation of ‘Deathnote’ and misguidedly, the casting of Caucasian Finn Jones as a Caucasian comic book character on ‘Iron Fist’.
After his casting, Kim announced:
“I’m excited to confirm that I’ve officially joined the cast of Hellboy. We start shooting today and I’ll be playing Ben Daimio, alongside our very talented cast, headed by David Harbour, and director, Neil Marshall. Thank you for all the supportive tweets and comments, especially in light of the recent events surrounding its original casting.”
Now that this controversy has been settled, hopefully the film can proceed with production and deliver something that proves as popular or more so as the original film.
‘Hellboy’ is being directed by Neil Marshall based on a screenplay by comic book creator Mike Mignola, Andrew Crosby and Christopher Golden. The cast includes Kim, David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane and Penelope Mitchell. It is expected to be released sometime in 2018, but an exact date has not yet been determined.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter