One week ago to the day, Deadpool actor Ed Skrein joined the cast of the upcoming Hellboy reboot in the role of Major Ben Daimio, a rugged military member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense who can turn into a jaguar because of a curse.
Following the announcement, however, fans were quick to point out that in the pages of Mike Mignola’s comics, Ben is of Japanese-American descent and this was yet another example of Hollywood whitewashing. Now, in the wake of the fan uproar, Skrein has announced that he has departed the project. His statement reads:
“Last week it was announced that I would be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming HELLBOY reboot. I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage. There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement, and I must do what I feel is right.
“It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the Arts. I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.
“Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family. It is our responsibility to make moral 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.
“I am sad to leave Hellboy but if this decision brings us closer to that day, it is worth it. I hope it makes a difference.”
Lionsgate, the studio behind the reboot, also released a statement on the matter. It reads:
“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.”
It remains to be seen who will take on the role of Ben, but with production set to begin on the Hellboy reboot within the next month, it’s possible a casting announcement could come soon.
David Harbour of Stranger Things is set to star as the titular hero in the film, which is slated to begin filming in September. Ian McShane (Deadwood, American Gods) will play Hellboy’s adoptive father, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (aka Professor Broom), Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Resident Evil franchise) has been cast as villain the Blood Queen, and Sasha Lane (American Honey) will play Alice Monaghan. Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) will direct from a script from Andrew Cosby (Eureka), Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola. Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin will produce with Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Entertainment.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)