Finally, an actor demonstrated that the importance of diversity and representation is more powerful than a paycheck.
Ed Skrein, known from his role as the villain in Deadpool, has decided to exit the Hellboy reboot just a week after joining following an outcry over his casting, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Skrein, a white man, was cast to play Major Ben Daimio, who THR notes is an Asian character in the Hellboy comic books.
Fans and critics took to Twitter to bemoan that once again a white actor had taken a role that could have been filled by a person of colour, arguing that Hollywood has passed over very talented and capable actors for too long. Though many aimed their frustrations towards director Neil Marshall and producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin, some pointed out that actors, too, should be more conscious when accepting roles.
Skrein announced his departure from the project on Monday in a letter he shared on Twitter and claimed that he was "unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage" at the time he accepted the role.
He continued to state that the conversation surrounding his casting was "intense" and ultimately led him to "do what I feel is right."
"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 wrote. "I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately."
Skrein continued: "It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity."
Though he noted that he was sad to no longer be part of the reboot, Skrein said that the decision will have been worth it if it can bring the industry a step closer to making "equal representation in the Arts a reality."
Skrein's stance is refreshing, especially after years of watching actors like Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton, Ben Affleck, and Jake Gyllenhaal accept roles specifically written for Asian, Latino, and Iranian people. Hopefully this is a start of a brighter future in Hollywood.