While the Hellboy reboot may be generally off the radar, it recently came under fire when it was announced that Ed Skrein would be joining the cast as Ben Daimio. Skrein is best known for his portrayal as the villain Ajax in Deadpool and is decidedly not Asian, while the character has consistently been portrayed as a mixed-race Asian. However, admits a wave of backlash about yet around white actor playing a character of color, Skrein has chosen to step down from the role, announcing it on his Twitter:
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
Skrein has been praised for stepping down from what was likely a high-paying role to make room for a different actor to take up the role. However, it’s no secret that movies accused of whitewashing tend to do poorly at the box office, it might not only be a smart career move for Skrein but also likely a smart move for the movie as well.
David Harbour of Stranger Things fame will be playing the title role, with Ian McShane as Hellboy’s adoptive father Professor Broom and Milla Jovovich set to play the villain Nimue the Blood Queen. Neil Marshall, best known for his work on Game of Thrones and The Descent, is set to direct the film.
Harbour also jumped in on the conversation, tweeting this shortly after Skrein’s announcement:
Hey internet. Thank you for your voices.
An injustice was done and will be corrected.
— David Harbour (@DavidKHarbour) August 28, 2017
Producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Millennium and Lionsgate also released a statement about Skrein’s decision: “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 set to premiere sometime in 2018, though it is currently still in pre-production.