Ed Skrein responded Monday to a backlash against his casting in the upcoming Hellboy film. When news got out that he was cast for the role it was met with complaints Hollywood was once again “whitewashing” an Asian character. Later that day, Skrein released a statement on Twitter and Instagram regarding his thoughts about the role.
“Last week it was announced that I would be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming HELLBOY reboot. I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage. There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement, and I must do what I feel is right.
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. I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.
Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family. 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 representation in the Arts a reality.
I am sad to leave Hellboy but if this decision brings us closer to that day, it is worth it. I hope it makes a difference.”
After Skrein stepped down from the role, Hellboy producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin and Lionsgate & Millennium made a statement to Deadline, “Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision. It was not our intent to be insensitive to issues of authenticity and ethnicity, and we will look to recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material.”
Most actors who have gone on to continue playing a role after social media backlash of whitewashing and yellow face have come up with excuses for taking the role, but Skrein’s statement shows he cares about the representation of minorities and what it means to us Asian-Americans.
Major props to Skrein for seeing the issue, supporting Asian-Americans by using his privilege, and doing the right thing.