“Yeah, it wasn’t a difficult decision at all,” Skrein told ComicBook.com, calling his exit “the right thing to do and the only thing to do.”
“It was a very simple decision in that regard,” he said.
Despite his initial excitement in joining the film, Skrein said he couldn’t in good conscious fill a role that should have been played by an actor of Asian heritage.
“We have public personas and such that build up through what people translate in our images, and our aesthetics, and creating their own narratives to that, and the narratives that we create through our interviews,” Skrein told us.
“People build up ideas of us from the characters that we play, but people that know me personally would not be surprised by my reaction to that and that there was no option, and they would have known that that was something that I just wouldn't have been able to enter into.”
“Anything I do I have to do wholeheartedly, so no, it was a very simple decision,” Skrein explained. “It meant a lot to me that it meant a lot to other people and that it resonated so much with people.”
Skrein voluntarily exited the in-the-works Hellboy reboot last August after news of his casting as Major Ben Daimio, who in Mike Mignola’s comic books is depicted as Japanese-American, stirred online controversy.
In a statement released by Skrein just days after news of his casting, the actor said he “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,” Skrein wrote.
The actor wrote that representing Daimio “in a culturally accurate way” is something that “holds significance for people,” and neglecting that responsibility “would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the Arts.”
The producers tapped Korean-American actor Daniel Dae Kim to replace Skrein, with the LOST and Hawaii Five-0 star boarding the project in September.
In a statement released to The Hollywood Reporter, Kim said Skrein “could not have addressed the issue more elegantly and I remain indebted to him for his strength of character.”
The two actors later met and posed for a smiley photo, with Kim tagging the social media post “#friend” and “#TaleOfTwoDaimios.”2comments
Skrein appears in Natalie Dormer-led thriller In Darkness, now playing. The Hellboy reboot, starring Stranger Things’ David Harbour as the hell-sent demon superhero, opens January 11, 2019.
Additional reporting by Scott Huver.