Ed Skrein has stepped down from his role in the Hellboy reboot, following controversy surrounding his casting.
The actor’s casting in the film was first announced last week and has drawn some controversy in the days since.
Skrein was set to play Major Ben Daimio, an Asian character in the Hellboy graphic novels.
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On Aug. 28, Skrein took to Twitter to announce his departure from the film in a statement.
“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 voice 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,” the actor wrote in a statement.
The statement continued: “Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family. It is our responsibility to make more 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 equal representation in the Arts a reality.”
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
Lionsgate also released a statement Monday in support of Skrein’s decision. “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.”
Ben Daimio was initially described as “a rugged military member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence who, due to a supernatural encounter, can turn into a jaguar when angered or in pain.” It is currently unknown who will take Skrein’s place in the role.
The Hellboy reboot is the latest movie to draw criticism for whitewashing.
In 2016, the casting of the Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson in an adaptation of the popular Ghost in the Shell anime and manga series had some critics complaining of “whitewashing.”
In 2015, the backlash over the casting of Emma Stone as a part-Asian, part-Hawaiian character in film Aloha prompted an apology from writer-director Cameron Crowe. Crowe said he would strive to tell more racially diverse stories in the future.
Stone said she “became the butt of jokes” over the role; the actor told news.com.au it was an eye-opening experience.
—With files from Tania Kohut