Ed Skrein was recently reported to play the role of Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense's Ben Daimio in the upcoming "Hellboy" reboot. As the character has an obvious Asian background, many fans feel that casting the British Skrein is another way for Hollywood to whitewash characters with different ethnicities. This prompted the actor to leave the project.
As reported by Time, Skrein expressed his exit to the "Hellboy" reboot via Twitter, stating that he is doing what he feels is right. He also states that cultural representation of characters is significant for other people and that he wants his decision to let go of the role becomes a step forward onto making equal representation in movies and in the performing arts.
Mike Mignola, responsible for creating the titular demon and the "Hellboy" series, praised the move Skrein took on the matter. David Harbour, who is set to play the titular demon, also praised the actor for respecting the character's ethnicity.
Many major movies in recent years have been the subject of whitewashing. The recent live-action adaptation of "Ghost in a Shell" is an example of this controversy, with Scarlett Johansson played the lead role called "Major," which originally had the named Major Makoto Kusanagi of Japanese descent, Deadline reported. Matt Damon's role in "Black Wall", Emma Stone's character in "Aloha" and Uma Thurman in "Batman and Robin" are also prime examples of this issue.
Tilda Swinton's portrayal as the "Ancient One" in "Doctor Strange" is another great example of the effect of whitewashing. Although received positive remarks for creating the gender-neutral character, the role was also met negatively, as the Ancient One is originally an Asian monk.
One of the biggest offenders of this whitewashing was M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender." One of the biggest criticisms of the movie was the messed-up casting choices, like having Caucasians play as the obviously Asian Water Tribe characters Kitara and Sokka. This also goes for the actor who played as Prince Zuko, changing the ethnicity from Asian to Middle-Eastern.