Tilda Swinton Defends Her Doctor Strange Casting Against Whitewashing Backlash

Photo: Gregory Pace/REX/Shutterstock.
In one of many recent decisions that have provoked backlash over Hollywood whitewashing, British actress Tilda Swinton was cast as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, a character who is written as a Tibetan man in the comics on which the movie is based. Many people were upset about this decision, but Swinton recently spoke up in defense of the film.

The actress told Out magazine that the casting made sense because the movie broke from the comic book and made her character Celtic.

Swinton expressed sympathy, however, with people concerned about racism. "There is little for me to add except to say that anyone speaking up for a greater accuracy in the representation of the diversity of the world we live in has me right beside them," she said. "As someone who has worked from the beginning as an artist within a queer aesthetic, the urgency of that voice is always going to be welcome." She also gave a shout-out to the movement calling for an LGBT Marvel superhero.

However, she doesn't believe Doctor Strange is undermining the goal of diversity. "The Ancient One in this film was never written as the bearded old Tibetan man portrayed in the comics," she explained.

She also pointed out that the character Wong, played by Benedict Wong, will have a more prominent role in the film than in the comic books. In addition, Chiwetel Ejiofor, a Black actor, will play Baron Mordo, who is white in the source material.

"Ironically, their casting is positively diverse in this case," she said. "There may be some people who do not like these changes, but I am hopeful that when they see the film itself, they may understand why these particular balances were struck. Meanwhile, whether they do or not, and this film aside, all strength to the lobby for a greater variety in cinema and in life."
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