An actor set to appear in an upcoming reboot of “Hellboy” has exited the project after he realized the character for which he’d been cast was “of mixed Asian heritage,” and that his casting would have whitewashed the role.
Ed Skrein was cast last week in the role of Major Ben Daimio for the upcoming reboot starring “Stranger Things” star David Harbour.
Skrein said in a statement posted to social media on Monday that he was “unaware” of his character’s background when he accepted the part, but he was prompted to correct the situation after being informed.
“There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement, and I must do what I feel is right,” he said. “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.”
Skrein said his departure makes way for the role to “be cast appropriately.”
Producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Lionsgate & Millennium released a joint statement to CNN saying they “fully support” Skrein’s “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,” the statement said.
Skrein’s decision comes at a time when more attention than ever is being paid to Hollywood’s casting decisions, particularly when it comes to adaptations.
Matt Damon’s “The Great Wall,” “Doctor Strange,” and Netflix’s “Iron Fist” and “Death Note” have faced criticism in the past for casting white actors in roles that some felt should be played by actors of Asian descent.
“Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family,” Skrein added. “It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity.”
Skrein’s other credits include parts in “Deadpool” and “Game of Thrones.”
Skrein said it is his “hope that one day these discussions will become less necessary,” and what while he’s “sad” to leave the film, “if this decision brings us closer to that day, it is worth it.”
“I hope it makes a difference,” he wrote.