Quite possibly one of the first times this has happened.
Ed Skrein, primarily known for his role as villain Francis from Deadpool, has stepped down from the new Hellboy Reboot. Originally, Skrein was to play the role of Major Ben Daimio, who is described as being “Asian American” in the original Hellboy comic.
In a lengthy post on twitter, Skrein explained why he decided to step down from this specific role.
This decision has been met favorably among audience and fellow cast members alike. Hellboy himself, David Arbor, retweeted this comment while voicing his approval and stating that “an injustice was done and will be corrected”.
The producers of the the movie also stated their approval of Skrein’s decision originally to The Hollywood Reporter:
“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.”
This is obviously not the first time that a movie has been accused of “whitewashing”. This year alone, Matt Damon’s “The Great Wall” and Scarlett Johansen’s “Ghost in the Shell” have both come under fire, Damon for being casted as a white lead in a primarily Asian movie, and Johansen for being casted into an originally Asian role as “Major”. This does not mention the criticisms lobbed at the upcoming Aladdin reboot as well as all the past years where movies have been accused of whitewashing.
However, this may be the first time an actor has stepped down from a role because of whitewashing accusations.
Often, when these situations come up, many either argue about casting the role correctly vs. casting a role based on an actor’s merit. As for now, the majority of people side with the former argument. Thus, this may signal a turning point in the cinematic debate. For now, audiences look to the Hellboy moviemakers for who will fill the position of Major Daimio.