Though we’re still a long way from seeing Neil Marshall’s R-rated Hellboy reboot in theaters, the film recently became the focus of a full-blown controversy when the public learned that Major Ben Daimio, a character of Japanese descent from the comics, would be played by Ed Skrein, a white actor. Today, Skrein announced he’d be leaving the role.
The Deadpool actor shared the news via a lengthy open letter posted to his personal Twitter account. He explains he came to the decision to drop out of the film after taking the time to understand why people were so concerned about his casting:
Not long after Skrein’s post began to pick up steam online, Lionsgate (the studio behind the new Hellboy reboot), along with producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin, issued a statement to Deadline explaining that Skrein’s decision to leave the film was one that he made on his own.
“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.”
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola shared his own response over social media:
Skrein’s Hellboy casting comes after films like Doctor Strange, Ghost in the Shell, and Death Note came under similar fire for casting white actors as characters that were originally depicted as being of Asian descent. Skrein is one of the first actors to leave a film entirely over this kind of controversy. But it stands to reason that he weighed the pros and cons of staying vs. leaving—and ultimately decided that he’d be better off not being included among the list of past offenders on this t-shirt.