Actor Ed Skrein (Deadpool) has announced he’ll no longer be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot, citing the importance of representation in film casting. Skrein joined the project just last week, but the decision to cast him as Daimio, a Japanese-American character in the comic books, was quickly met with backlash and accusations of whitewashing.
“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 wrote in a note on Twitter. “I feel it is important to honor and respect that.”
The new Hellboy film, which is being directed by Game of Thrones and Westworld director Neil Marshall, will go back to the story’s comic book source material rather than serving as a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s adaptations. While Skrein’s character has yet to be recast, David Harbour, Ian McShane, and Milla Jovovich are still set to star. Hellboy comic creator Mike Mignola, who originally tweeted in support of Skrein’s casting, thanked Skrein for his statement about his departure on Twitter.
Skrein’s decision to leave the project is significant, especially as Hollywood continues to struggle with whitewashing. In 2016, Scarlett Johansson played Major Motoko Kusanagi in the live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell. Emma Stone faced criticism in 2015 for playing a character in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha who was described as Hawaiian and Chinese. Most recently, Netflix’s Death Note has also been accused of Asian erasure, because it was originally a Japanese story.
Hellboy is slated for a 2018 release.