Follow Us on Twitter

Ed Skrein quits Hellboy reboot over whitewashing row

Ed Skrein

Story by Jack Foley

BRITISH actor Ed Skrein has quit the forthcoming reboot of Hellboy after his casting was greeted with controversy.

The 34-year-old rapper turned actor was set to play Major Ben Daimio in the new adaptation of the cult comic series.

But news of his casting was immediately bemoaned by fans as the character had been drawn as Asian. They declared the casting was yet another example of a Hollywood whitewash, following the likes of Tilda Swinton as Tibetan mentor the Ancient One in Doctor Strange and Scarlett Johansson leading manga adaptation Ghost in the Shell.

In a surprise twist, however, it was Skrein himself who decided to remove himself from the project given his own concerns about the white-washing element of his casting. And the actor, best known for playing the villain in Deadpool, took to Instagram and Twitter to explain his decision.

He wrote: “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 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.”

Skrein continued: “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.”

Hellboy producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin have since issued their own joint statement with backers Lionsgate and Millennium to add their support.

They said: “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.”

The latest iteration of Hellboy will reboot the saga that was originally brought to the screen by Guillermo del Toro.

The cast includes Stranger Things star David Harbour, Ian McShane and Milla Jovovich. Neil Marshall, of The Descent and Game of Thrones fame, will direct.

Skrein will next be seen in manga adaptation Alita: Battle Angel, which is being produced by James Cameron.

Next story: The Hitman’s Bodyguard tops slowest US box office weekend in almost 16 years