A British actor has pulled out of a Hollywood movie after realising that he had been cast as a character of Asian heritage.
Ed Skrein was cast as Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot. However, he was soon on the receiving end of a backlash from fans and the film was accused of 'whitewashing' the role.
The Deadpool actor, 34, says that he was unaware of the character's Asian heritage at the time of accepting the part in the comic book adaptation. It is believed that this is the first time an actor has turned down a Hollywood role to make a point about 'whitewashing'.
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He released a statement, which he tweeted to his 50,000 followers. He explained that he must do what he 'feels is right'.
Continuing, he explained: "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 appropriately."
In his statement, he then alluded to his own heritage: "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 a 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."
He concluded: "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."
Members of the public have commended Skrein's actions. One wrote: "I admit I'm not familiar with your work, but I will keep track now and make sure to support your roles in the future. Thank you for your stance."
Another added: "So much respect to Ed Skrein for this. Ultimately it's the fault of the filmmakers for casting him, but it takes a lot to step down like that."
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For many, Skrein's decision to step down has resonated with them personally. One fan said: "I hadn't been hoping for this. I didn't know to. And now it's happened. And I never realised just how much this means to me. Thank you."
In a statement, the film's producers - Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Millennium and Lionsgate - said that they support his decision. They said: "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."
Hellboy is due for release in 2018.
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