Just two weeks after caucasian actor Ed Skrein publicly walked away from playing the Asian role of Major Ben Daimio, Korean-American actor Daniel Dae Kim was announced in the role. In a note posted to Twitter, Skrein admitted that he left because he did not want to be part of Hollywood’s long history of whitewashing Asian roles in movies.
Opponents of whitewashing feel that Asian Americans among other minorities do not receive the exposure they deserve, and that even when a role is written as Asian-American, it is likely the part will either be changed to be white or given to a non-white actor to play in “yellow face.” Scarlett Johansson’s performance in the anime movie Ghost in the Shell, Emma Stone’s casting in Aloha, and Tilda Swinton’s role in Dr. Strange are several notable examples in recent times with Mickey Rooey’s portrayal of a Japanese man in Breakfast at Tiffany‘s remaining the most classically racist.
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
Skrein’s actions were applauded by Asian Americans and their allies throughout the entertainment industry, including Kim.
— Daniel Dae Kim (@danieldaekim) August 28, 2017
In an official statement, Lionsgate, the studio producing Hellboy, apologized, claiming “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.”
It appears that they have kept their word.
Yesterday, Variety announced that Kim will be taking on the role of Major Ben Daimio. Daimio is a major supporting character in the Hell Boy comic series, a grizzled Japanese-American military vet with the ability to transform into a powerful werewolf.
Daniel Dae Kim is an accomplished Asian American actor who previously starred in the television series Lost and Hawaii Five-0, the latter of which he and costar Grace Park exited after not receiving equal pay to their white costars.
Now, there are some fans who would prefer that a Japanese actor be chosen for the role, but Daniel Dae Kim’s casting nonetheless shows that studios are listening and that diversity in casting isn’t just wishful thinking.