Ed Skrein Exits Hellboy Reboot

Actor Departs Hellboy After Controversy

Ed Skrein, aka Francis, aka Ajax from Deadpool, departed the upcoming Hellboy reboot earlier this week amid major controversy about his casting. He was cast as Major Ben Daimio, who is Asian American in the comics. This casting prompted a massive outcry, with some calling the casting another case of Hollywood whitewashing of an Asian character. On Monday, Skrein posted to Twitter, announcing he was dropping out of the Hellboy film:

This move has already been met positively, and there are more calls for conversation about representation in Hollywood of minority actors. This call is especially keen for Asian American actors, who are often typecast, if they’re cast at all. Hellboy creator Mike Mignola praised the decision on Twitter as well.

Yellowface In Hollywood

Major Ben Daimio from Hellboy
Major Ben Daimio from Hellboy

Unfortunately, old habits die hard in Hollywood. One particular thing that is hard to kill is casting white actors as minorities. There have been especially offensive cases of this in the past. These include classic films such as Breakfast At Tiffany’s, where Mickey Rooney played a particularly offensive portrayal of an Japanese man. Even the beloved comedy Murder By Death isn’t immune, with Peter Seller’s Charlie Chan like portrayal of a Chinese detective.

In more recent years, Hollywood has been under tighter scrutiny for similar casting. In the 2015 film flop Aloha, there was much criticism of blond haired, blue eyed Emma Stone playing a character who was of mixed Chinese and Hawaiian ancestry. This criticism contributed to the film’s failure at the box office. Similar criticism occurred for Tilda Swanson in Doctor Strange, where her portrayal of the Ancient One was race swapped from a Tibetan man to a Celtic woman. However, Marvel did this mainly as to not offend audiences with an ethnic stereotype…along with making sure they weren’t pissing off the Chinese government, for whom Tibet is a sore subject.

Most recently was Scarlett Johansson in Ghost In The Shell, where there was massive outcry against a white woman playing the role of a main character assumed to be Asian. Despite the assurances of the comic’s creator that he was fine with the casting, the film was a box office disaster. The whitewashing controversy has become increasingly harmful to Hollywood’s bottom line as audiences become less likely to approve of such casting.

Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen is set to debut in 2018.

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