Ed Skrein’s Decision Is A Game Changer

September 1, 2017 - 8:45am

Sometimes it just takes one person to make a huge impact. When Ed Skrein backed out of his role in Hellboy as Major Ben Daimio, (a half-Japanese character in the comics upon which the film is based), the industry took notice.

He made the decision after seeing the blowback his casting news received online.

  • "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," Skrein tweeted. "It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity."
  • Skrein's move came as a shocker in Hollywood, and many of his colleagues praised his decision.
  • "My gut reaction when I read [his statement] was, 'Wow, that's a brave move,' because I'm sure that was a role he really wanted and fought for," casting director Lucinda Syson, who cast Skrein in 2015's The Transporter Refueled and most recently worked on films like Wonder Woman, told Entertainment Weekly. "Now, I think everyone's had a wake-up call... This discussion is an incredibly healthy one, and I think it's long overdue."
  • "He's going to be remembered for authentic representation on screen," casting director Russell Boast (Hulu's Chance), who heads the Casting Society of America's diversity committee tells EW. "I think [his decision] will resonate with many actors who have never thought about standing up and saying they don't want to be a part of this whitewashing game that's being played."
  • Several actors have recently caught heat for "whitewashing."
  • Recent examples include Emma Stone playing a character of Hawaiian and Chinese descent in Aloha, Tilda Swinton playing an Asian character in Doctor Strange and Scarlett Johansson playing a traditionally Japanese character in Ghost in the Shell.
  • A white actor actually leaving a role created for someone of a different race has never been done, or at least not on such a public scale, and many are saying that this is a wake-up call for the industry and Hollywood.
  • "I think it's remarkable [he chose to leave]," indie casting director Julia Kim (But I'm a Cheerleader) tells EW. "He could have really benefitted from a big role like this in a big film. But it would have been negative attention [if he stayed], and this is positive attention... In a way, he shifted the responsibility to the actors themselves and fixed the problem from inside out. That sets a platform for other actors to either follow or not follow."