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Ed Skrein Steps Down From ‘Hellboy’ Role Amid Whitewashing Backlash

Ed Skrein
Ed Skrein arrives for the 2016 Into Film Awards at Odeon Leicester Square in London, England.

Ed Skrein is leaving the Hellboy reboot after backlash over his casting. The actor announced his decision in a statement on Twitter on Monday, August 28.

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The Deadpool star, 34, signed on last week to play Major Ben Daimio, who is Japanese-American in the original comic books. People on social media were upset that the film was whitewashing the character and criticized both the film and Skrein.

Skrein said he didn’t know the character’s ethnicity when he took the part. “I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter. “There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement, and I must do what I feel is right.”

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He decided to exit the project so a different actor could be cast. “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,” he continued. “I feel it is important to honor and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.”

The Game of Thrones alum went on to say that he hopes to bring about positive change through his actions. “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,” Skrein shared. “It is my hope that one day these discussion 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.”

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Twitter users praised Skrein for doing the right thing. “I admit I’m not familiar w/ your work, but I will keep track now & make sure to support your roles in the future. Thank you for your stance,” one tweeter wrote. Another added, “Not an easy decision. Mad respect.”

Hellboy producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Millennium and Lionsgate also released a joint statement on Monday. “Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this,” the statement read, per The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

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