The upcoming Hellboy reboot is addressing its recent “whitewashing” controversy” with an actor who should be rather popular with audiences.
In August, Ed Skrein was cast in the film, slated to be released in 2018, as Ben Daimio, a former Marine who works with the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development who is eventually brought back from the dead. When the news was announced, Skrein and the people behind the film received a ton of backlash for one simple reason: Skrein is Caucasian and in the Hellboy universe, Daimio is Asian.
After all the criticism, Skrein removed himself from the role and the film entirely, and the production is on the brink of replacing him with Daniel Dae Kim.
Kim is a fan favorite for his roles in Lost and Hawaii Five-O. Though Kim is South Korean and the Daimio character is Japanese, the casting is a good fit and helps address a frequent criticism in Hollywood these days.
The 49-year-old made his own headlines recently for other issues surrounding race. Kim is no longer on Hawaii Five-O because back in June he and co-star Grace Park left the series due to a salary dispute. Kim and Park were looking to be paid just as much as their co-stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, but when deals were not agreed upon, the two left the show.
“As an Asian-American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well developed, three dimensional character like Chin Ho,” Kim said. “I will miss him sincerely. What made him even more special is that he was a representative of a place my family and I so dearly love. It has been nothing short of an honor to be able to showcase the beauty and people of Hawaii every week, and I couldn’t be prouder to call these islands home.”
Under other circumstances, Skrein would have been a fine choice for a movie like Hellboy. He has his own following for playing Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones, Frank Martin Jr. in The Transporter Refueled, and might be best known now for his role as villain Ajax in Deadpool.
However, casting him as a character who is Asian in the source material was poor judgment by producers. Especially when plenty of movies and TV shows — Ghost in the Shell and Netflix’s Death Note are two recent examples — have come under heavy scrutiny for not giving such roles to ethnically appropriate actors and people of color. Conscious of that troubling trend himself, Skrein decided to withdraw from the role and made the announcement publicly.
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
Hellboy is scheduled for a 2018 release. The film will be directed by Neil Marshall (Westworld, Game of Thrones) and stars David Harbour (Stranger Things, Suicide Squad) as the title character, along with Ian McShane and Milla Jovovich.