It looks like the folks at Lionsgate are taking a cue from Ed Skrein (Deadpool) and looking to right the ship on the casting of a particular character in their Hellboy reboot. Per THR, Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-0) is in talks to replace Skrein in the role of Major Ben Daimio, a character of Japanese descent in the Hellboy comics.
Skrein made an unprecedented, ballsy, and dignified decision to walk away from the role after the casting came under fire for 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 voice in the Arts,” Skrein said in a statement. “I feel it is important to honor and respect that. There I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.” But there was no guarantee the studio would follow suit and listen to the cultural criticisms.
But there was no guarantee the studio would follow suit and listen to the cultural criticisms. Following Skrein’s departure, Lionsgate issues a statement: “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.” And now it looks like they’re ready to put their money where their mouth is — a smart move that is unfortunately all too rare. Multiple times in recent years, studios have opted to shirk off whitewashing complaints in favor of box office-driving performers with proven international appeal. But as we saw with Ghost in the Shell, that doesn’t guarantee a profitable film. In any case, it’s refreshing to see both the actor and the studio own up and adjust course when they face criticisms rather than doubling down and Kim, a longtime advocate for Asian representation in cinema who recently walked away from his hit CBS series Hawaii Five-0 over a pay dispute. At the time, Kim said in a Facebook statement “the path to equality is rarely easy.”
Should the deal close, Kim will play Major Ben Daimio, a military member of the bureau for paranormal research and defense who has the ability to transform into a jaguar. Stranger Things star David Harbour is set to play the title character with Milla Jovovich taking on the villainous role as the Blood Queen and Ian McShane as Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm. Game of Thrones and The Descent director Neil Marshall is set to helm the reboot.