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The Martian Gets Called Out for Whitewashing

Illustration for article titled iThe Martian/i Gets Called Out for Whitewashing

The creators of The Martian are being criticized for casting non-Asian actors in roles that were originally Asian in the book.


In Ridley Scott’s The Martian, Mackenzie Davis (a white actress) plays scientist Mindy Park, who’s Korean-American in the book from which the film is adapted, while Chiwetel Ejiofor (a black actor) plays a NASA director whose original character is Asian Indian.

Members of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans have an issue with both castings and consider it a sign of an ongoing lack of consideration for Asian actors. Previously, Aloha caught backlash when Emma Stone was bafflingly cast as a half-Asian character.


MANNA President Aki Aleong tells The Hollywood Reporter, “This insulting practice of white-washing has got to stop. Alarmingly, it has been increasing in frequency.”

The Martian hired Asian actors, including Benedict Wong, in other roles, but mostly minor ones. MANNA’s founding president Guy Aoki says, “So few projects are written specifically with Asian-American characters in them, and he’s now changed them to a white woman and black man. This was a great opportunity to give meaty roles to talented Asian American actors—and boost their careers.”

Of course, races don’t always need to match up perfectly in adaptations; lots of factors are at play. But Hollywood’s inequity in casting that continues to be a never-ending slap to the face to nonwhite Americans, who in many cases can’t even be cast in mainstream roles without attracting intense backlash.


Aoki says, “This feel-good movie, which has attracted Oscar buzz, shouldn’t get any awards for casting.”

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I thought Chiwetel Ejiofor was only cast when an Indian actor had to back out at the last minute?