In a move that has social media rejoicing, Deadpool actor Ed Skrein has exited the Hellboy reboot after joining the project just one week ago. The decision to leave is in the wake of a social media outcry when Skrein was cast in the film as Major Ben Daimio, an asian character in the comic books. Across all social channels, fans expressed their staunch opposition to his casting, calling it another example of Hollywood’s rampant whitewashing problem.
In a statement that the actor released himself on Twitter, Skrein revealed that he has decided to exit the project, saying “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.”
Lionsgate, the film’s financier and studio, is backing Skrein in his decision. The producers released a statement Monday, saying “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.”
This controversy comes after a slew of questionable casting decisions have hit the big screen in recent years, and most prominently in comic adaptations. Last year alone, audiences spoke outwardly about their disfavor for Scarlet Johansson’s casting in Ghost in a Shell as well as Tilda Swinton in Dr. Strange — an outcry that led to an even more controversial email exchange between Swinton and Margaret Cho. This is the first time an actor has left a high-profile project in the name of diversity.
Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen, although now short one actor, is still bustling ahead with its currently set cast of David Harbour, Ian McShane, and Milla Jovovich. You can read Skrein’s full statement below:
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017