For once, we have good news about the rampant whitewashing trend in Hollywood.
A Hellboy reboot is in the works at Lionsgate, and just last week it was announced that actor Ed Skrein had signed on to play Major Ben Daimio, a rugged soldier who also happens to be Asian in the comic books. Skrein, who played Ajax in Deadpool and was also the first Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones before being recast, is a white British man. It didn't take long for people to air their grievances over the news on social media, since many saw the studio's choice to cast Skrein as yet another example of whitewashing in the movie industry. Fortunately, this is not another Ghost in the Shell situation.
Skrein posted a heartfelt note about why he's decided to exit Hellboy on Twitter on Monday, and many applauded his words. "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," he wrote. "I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately."
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
Stranger Things actor David Harbour, who's playing Hellboy in the reboot, thanked his would-be co-star with a tweet of his own on Monday. "Hey internet. Thank you for your voices," he tweeted. "An injustice was done and will be corrected. Many thanks to @edskrein for doing what is right."
While what Skrein did is definitely worthy of some applause, it must be noted that a controversy like this shouldn't have to happen in the first place. Skrein's decision shouldn't be a unique example, it should be the norm. There are thousands of Asian actors who Hollywood could have cast as Major Ben Daimio, but the fact that they went with Skrein first — he's proven he's a formidable action star and easy on the eyes, sure, but his name alone is not a big draw — is yet another reminder that we still have a long, long way to go in Hollywood. If more white actors continue to stand up to injustices like Skrein did, rather than knowingly accepting a role that is intended for a person of colour, then maybe we can finally get somewhere.