Ed Skrein is a very handsome actor who is also apparently hot on the inside, because he just did something pretty decent. Skrein was recently cast as Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy: Rise Of The Blood Queen. In the comics, Daimio is supposed to be Japanese-American. He also has a pretty wicked scar.
According to Deadline, there was an almost instantaneous and wicked backlash. Whitewashing in Hollywood is a common and sad trope, one that particularly affects Asian characters, like in Doctor Strange or Ghost in the Shell. The actors in those, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton, kept their roles that were originally imagined as Asian people, and faced considerable criticism for it.
Skrein decided to go a different way. About a week after his casting was announced, he stepped down from the part with this public message on social media:
Skrein explained the controversy around the Hellboy character and said he had to do what he felt 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 appropriatel.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 equal representation in the Arts a reality.”
Though we'll probably never know what the conversation behind closed doors was like, publicly Skrein has been supported by David Harbour, who will be playing the Hellboy:
And also the creator of the comics, Mike Mignola:
Lionsgate, who are producing the film, also released a statement in support of Skrein's choice:
“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.”
Whether or not Skrein's decision will make a change in Hollywood casting, it's certainly gained him a lot of attention from people who appreciate his sacrificing something for what he thinks is a larger good:
I admit I'm not familiar w/ your work, but I will keep track now & make sure to support your roles in the future. Thank you for your stance.— SUZANNE (@425suzanne) August 28, 2017
And heck, if casting directors know that artists might publicly shame their whitewashing choices, it could actually stop happening!