The New Mutants Director Addresses Sunspot Casting Controversy

Henry Zaga isn’t the first actor to play Roberto da Costa/Sunspot on the big screen. But unlike Adan Canto’s brief turn as the character in X-Men: Days of Future Past, director Josh Boone is giving Roberto an actual storyline with real emotional stakes in The New Mutants. Still, Zaga’s casting wasn’t without backlash when it was first announced. In the comics, Roberto is Afro-Brazilian, and writers have used his ethnicity to comment on anti-Black racism in Brazil. Although Zaga is Brazilian-born, some critics have pinpointed his lighter skin tone as an exercise in Hollywood “whitewashing.” Now, Boone is responding to these claims.

Boone addressed the Sunspot controversy during a recent interview with io9. Apparently, he looked at hundreds of Brazilian actors from different ethnic backgrounds. But Boone argues that everyone else lacked the gravitas that Zaga brought to the role.

“You won’t have any argument from me,” said Boone. “I saw every shade of the sun. It was the same case with Blu Hunt. It’s like we looked at 300 Native American people and people very close ties to the Native American community. My goal was to find the best actor who, because they’ve done so little work, was at least the closest to kind of what I saw in my head for the character. There was nobody who [held] a candle to Henry. It’s like maybe if Henry didn’t exist, I would have found somebody who was darker skinned who exemplified what I needed. But it was never about the color of their skin for me.”

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In the long run, Boone was also looking for an actor who could represent the country of Brazil as a whole.

“I didn’t care so much about the racism I’ve heard about in Brazil, about light-skinned versus dark-skinned,” added Boone. “To me, it was I wanted to represent Brazil in a positive way and I wanted to find somebody who seems like he could look like a guy who’s had the silver spoon in his mouth, who has like a really rich dad and [Henry] just exemplified all these things.”

Boone is also re-teaming with Zaga on his upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand. Zaga will star as the deaf vagabond Nick Andros on that series, which hits CBS All Access in December.

The New Mutants opens this Friday, August 28.

What do you make of Boone’s response to Zaga’s casting backlash? Let us know in the comments down below!

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