The Hellboy movie reboot received criticism for whitewashing a comic character when Ed Skrein was announced to be playing the role of Ben Daimio, a Major in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
Skrein has since stepped down from the role, and the producers of the movie have pledged to cast an actor who better represents the character. Daimio is depicted as a Japanese American in the comics, and the controversy was ignited when Skrein’s casting announcement was made public.
Producers Lloyd Levin and Larry Gordon issued a joint statement with Lionsgate and Millennium, stating their commitment to get the casting of Daimio right after the mistake.
“Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this,” the statement to Deadline reads “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.”
Skrein also made his concerns public with a statement on social media where he revealed he was no longer involved with the project in that role.
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 that 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.
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 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.
The Hellboy reboot, based on the comic storyline “The Wild Hunt,” currently stars David Harbour, Mills Jovovich, and Ian McShane.