Ed Skrein has pulled out of the upcoming Hellboy reboot on account of backlash that flared after he was cast to play a character originally portrayed as Asian, hopefully sending a message to casting directors declaring that shit not okay.
It was only a week ago that Skrein announced he’d be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming film, but accusations of whitewashing were quick to temper the Deadpool actor’s enthusiasm for his new role. At the time that he accepted the part, he said, he was not aware of the character’s heritage, and has since rethought the wisdom of playing Daimio in the film. As he wrote in a tweet:
David Harbour, who will play Hellboy (though he’s currently best known as Police Chief Jim Hopper on Stranger Things), tweeted his support for Skrein’s eloquent conciliation.
And Mike Mignola, who created the namesake comics, also approved.
Lionsgate—which will produce the film—released a statement to Deadline shortly after Skrein posted his tweet, praising the move and offering assurances that the next choice for Daimio will be better thought-out:
“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.”
Past white-washing incidents have included Doctor Strange, Ghost in the Shell and Death Note, though Skrein was among the first actors to relinquish a role in the face of controversy. Maybe this will be the last time this happens, since it’s unlikely studios enjoy dedicating resources to re-casting when it can just be done right the first time.
The reboot is set to star Milla Jovovich as Nimue, Ian McShane as Professor Broom and Alice Monaghan as Sasha Lane, with Neil Marshall directing.