For a movie that was meant to represent an “international and multi-racial world,” Pan had a main cast that was as shockingly white as the one in Gods of Egypt—including the originally Native American Tiger Lily, played by Rooney Mara. Now Mara is washing her hands of the movie, including her own casting in it.
Speaking in a new interview for The Telegraph, Mara addressed her thoughts on the recent controversy over the sheer lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominees, by acknowledging that she had been on the “wrong side” of the debate, thanks to Pan:
[It was a] tricky thing to deal with. There were two different periods; right after I was initially cast, and the reaction to that, and then the reaction again when the film came out.
I really hate, hate, hate that I am on that side of the whitewashing conversation. I really do. I don’t ever want to be on that side of it again. I can understand why people were upset and frustrated...
Do I think all of the four main people in the film should have been white with blonde hair and blue eyes? No. I think there should have been some diversity somewhere.
It’s not entirely fair to place all the blame on Mara—if anything, it should be laid at the feet of the casting process that thought it was totally okay to cast a blonde haired white woman as a Native American character, and merely pass it off as a “different vision”... a vision that left Tiger Lily’s village pretty much entirely non-white, except for Mara. At least the actress implies that she’d be unlikely to put herself in a position like this again.
While the list of things to regret about Pan includes more than just Mara’s casting (arguably that list includes roughly 95 percent of the movie), it’s at least refreshing to see the people involved with it acknowledge the deeply troubling issue of the situation being just the latest example in a long line of terrible Hollywood whitewashing.
There’s a big difference between acknowledging and actually doing something about it though—and whether Hollywood will do something about the problem sadly remains to be seen.