Hellboy Producers Thankfully Say They’re Taking a Cue From Ed Skrein’s Departure Over Whitewashing

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Yesterday, we got an unexpected surprise: Actor Ed Skrein, who had recently been cast in an upcoming Hellboy reboot as Ben Daimio, abandoned the role due to whitewashing concerns rather than offer up any of the defenses we so often hear. Not only that, but in a statement explaining his decision, he specifically called for better casting in his place, and it looks like Lionsgate is going to listen.

Lionsgate and Millennium Pictures producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin told Deadline, “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.”

Skrein had been made aware that, in the source material, Daimio was of “mixed Asian heritage,” and his actions have paved the way for this casting situation to be rectified, thanks in no small part to the outcry that brought it to his attention. Whether it’s because Skrein’s note called for just that and forced the producers’ hand, or because they genuinely came around on the issue, it feels good to see that talking about these issues can actually change things.

Too often, we’re told that each one specific instance isn’t that important or isn’t that big a deal because of specific circumstances, but it’s the overall trend that we’re more concerned with. Skrein mentioned as much in his statement, writing, “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. 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.”

We always know that we’re not especially likely to change any one particular casting, but that big picture doesn’t change unless we keep talking about it until someone is willing to do something about it. We can’t wait to see who steps into the role.

(via Polygon, image: Dark Horse Comics)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.