British actor Ed Skrein initially signed on to play Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy roboot. Then he discovered the original comic book character was a Japanese-American whose grandmother served as an Imperial assassin during World War II.
The Deadpool actor released a statement explaining his exit:
Producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Millennium and Lionsgate issued a statement of their own:
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.
Recent examples of whitewashing in Hollywood: Scarlet Johansson in the lead role of Major Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost In the Shell, and Emma Stone as a character of Hawaiian and Chinese descent in Cameron Crowe's Aloha.
Twitter praised Skrein's decision:
Game of Thrones and Westworld director Neil Marshall is set to helm the next installment in the franchise, which will hew closer to the comic book rather than serve as a sequel to Guillermo del Toro's previous adaptations.
David Harbour will play the eponymous character, with co-stars Ian McShane and Milla Jovovich. The October filming date will reportedly not be affected by recasting delays.
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, who was excited about Skrein's casting, gave a shout out to the actor:
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