Actor drops out of 'Hellboy' reboot amid whitewashing concerns

PHOTO: Actor Ed Skrein attends an event on Feb. 9, 2016 in New York.Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images
Actor Ed Skrein attends an event on Feb. 9, 2016 in New York.

An actor cast in the upcoming "Hellboy" reboot has dropped out of the film’s production amid concerns of whitewashing.

In the film, Ed Skrein had been cast as fictional character Maj. Ben Daimio, who in the comic books is Japanese-American. Skrein said in a statement Monday that when he accepted the part, he was unaware of Daimio's heritage. After bearing witness to "intense conversation and understandable upset," he said in a statement, he decided "to step down so the role can be cast appropriately."

"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 honor and respect that," he said.

"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," he added.

Over the past few years, the concept of whitewashing, or casting white actors to play characters conceived as people of color, has faced increased scrutiny in Hollywood. Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson are just a few stars who have found themselves at the center of these conversations.

After Stone accepted the role of a half-Chinese character in the 2015 film "Aloha," she said she learned "on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is."

"It's ignited a conversation that's very important," she added.

"Hellboy" producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Lionsgate and Millennium said in a statement that they will recast Skrein's part with his concerns in mind.

"Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision," the statement read. "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.”

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