Ed Skrein exits 'Hellboy' after whitewashing backlash

"It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity."

Well, this is a surprise... Actor Ed Skrein has stepped down from his role in the upcoming Hellboy movie reboot after his casting set off massive outcry over yet another instance of Hollywood whitewashing.

Ed Skrein Exits 'Hellboy' Reboot After Whitewashing Outcry

News broke last week that Skrein had joined the cast of Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen as Major Ben Daimio, a character who is Asian American in the comic books. This, of course, unleashed all kinds of internet fury. A white guy takes a role that clearly should have gone to an Asian actor. We'd been down this road before.

But here's what we haven't seen: a white actor stepping down from a role out of conscience and solidarity. Skrein's exit from Hellboy has to be the first time an actor has removed himself from such a high-profile project in response to public criticism. Hey, Scarlett Johansson, take some notes.

Skrein announced that he was leaving the project on Twitter.

Skrein, who is British, said that he was unaware of the character's Asian heritage when he accepted the role.

"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," Skrein said in his statement. "I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately."

This is seriously unheard of. And it's kind of awesome.

Every instance of Hollywood whitewashing is actually a long, ugly journey with many stops along the way. For the most part, actors actually don't have a lot of say in the process, except in one major respect: the ability to say "no." This is not always easy. You have to appreciate that Ed Skrein got his ass kicked a little on the internet, listened to the backlash, carefully considered the implications of taking the role, and took action.

"It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity," Skrein writes. "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."

The next time some fool on the internet tries to tell you that an actor just can't step away from a racist movie or TV role, feel free to point them to Mr. Ed Skrein, the guy who simply did the right thing.

Hellboy producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Millennium and Lionsgate released a statement Monday in support of Skrein's decision to leave the project.

"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." You mean an Asian guy.

Of course, what's really great about Skrein's high-profile exit, is that it now puts immense public pressure on Hellboy's producers to "appropriately" recast the role of Ben Daimio. There is no way in hell (no pun intended) that they'd dare whitewash this shit now. Um, right? Fingers crossed.

We definitely weren't expecting things to go this way. We were reserving a space for you on this shirt, Ed Skrein. We didn't expect you to lead by example. Respect. That said, the responsibility of fighting Hollywood racism shouldn't fall squarely on the shoulders of actors. Producers and studios need to wake up the hell up. This is their mess. They should never have even gotten to this point in the first place.

Little by little, this shit is not going to fly anymore.

More here: Ed Skrein Drops Out of ‘Hellboy’ Reboot After Whitewashing Controversy

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