Last week we reported that Deadpool star Ed Skrein had been cast as Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot. The casting was met with some controversy, as the character is of Asian descent in the comics, with many calling out the creative team for whitewashing. Now, in a bit of a surprising move, the actor has left the project following the controversy in order for the role to be "cast appropriately."
Ed Skrein released a full statement regarding his departure from the Hellboy reboot on Twitter. It is made very clear that this was his decision and he is doing it because he feels it is the right thing to do. Here's what he had to say about it.
"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 equal 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."
There have been plenty of whitewash controversies in Hollywood recently, with Scarlett Johansson's casting in Ghost in the Shell being met with criticism, as well as Tilda Swinton's role as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, just to name a couple. Even though it looked as though the Hellboy reboot was going to be another example of the same problem, Ed Skrein has done something truly amazing and is walking away from a role in a potentially massive franchise so an Asian actor can have that opportunity instead. This is pretty unprecedented in the modern era of comic book movies and is a move that will surely be met with praise.
The cast for the Hellboy reboot still includes Stranger Things star David Harbour as the titular hero, as well as Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane and Sasha Lane. The movie is said to be shooting as early as next month for an anticipated release sometime next year. Neil Marshall (The Descent) is directing with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola heavily involved.
Ed Skrein has now made it so the studio is going to have to recast the role of Ben Daimio, and possibly in a hurry. The other thing to note here is that Skrein has now more or less ensured that the role will go to an Asian actor, because the Hellboy team would come under a tremendous amount of fire after this if they just cast another white actor for the part. You can check out Ed Skrein's full Twitter post for yourself below.