Exactly one week after his casting was announced to the world – not to mention the heated controversy that ensued – Deadpool actor Ed Skrein has officially walked away from Lionsgate and Millenium’s Hellboy reboot.
The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop, confirming that Skrein is no longer involved in the “dark, gruesome” project after the actor himself “decided to step down” amid scathing allegations of whitewashing – allegations that ought to be familiar to those who paid close attention to Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, The Great Wall, Ghost in the Shell, and the recently-released Netflix thriller, Death Note (our review).
Last week, Skrein landed the coveted role of military chief Major Ben Daimio, a character who was originally portrayed as Asian in Mike Mignola’s cult comic book series. And so, after Lionsgate’s latest casting coup drew the ire of the Internet, Ed Skrein has now vacated the role so that it “can be cast appropriately.” It’s a classy move on Skrein’s part and, frankly, we can only hope that other high-profile Hollywood actors follow in his footsteps. Diversity in film is important – vital, even – and this is a decision that ought to be commended across the board.
Indeed, the actor’s heartfelt statement prompted a response from Lionsgate, with one of the studio’s spokespersons writing that, “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.”
Meanwhile, Ed Skrein explained his reasoning as so:
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 voice in the Arts. I feel it is important to honor and respect that. There 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 more 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.
With David Harbour (Stranger Things) in the title role, filming on Hellboy is due to commence next month ahead of a theatrical release in the fall of 2018. Other cast members include Ian McShane, Sasha Lane and Milla Jovovich as the unruly Blood Queen.