British actor Ed Skrein quits Hellboy reboot after whitewashing controversy

Ed Skrein's decision to quit the Hellboy film has been met with praise from industry players and fans alike. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES - British actor Ed Skrein has pulled out of the Hellboy reboot after his casting in the film was met with backlash amid criticisms of whitewashing.

The 34-year-old, who is best known for playing the villain in last year's Deadpool (2016), was set to play military member Major Ben Daimio, who in the comic books is Japanese-American. Hellboy, created by Mike Mignola, is a demonic hero with superhuman strength.

On Twitter on Monday night, he wrote that he had signed on not knowing that the character is Asian, and that since the "understandable upset" which has come up surrounding his casting, that "I must do what I feel is right".

He added: "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. I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.

"Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family. It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity. It is my hope that one day these discussions will become less necessary and that we can help make equal representation in the Arts a reality."

Skrein is of Jewish Austrian and English descent.

His decision to quit the film has been met with praise from industry players and fans alike.

American actor David Harbour (Stranger Things, 2016), who will star in the reboot as the titular demonic hero Hellboy, wrote on Twitter: "Hey internet. Thank you for your voices. An injustice was done and will be corrected. Many thanks to @edskrein for doing what is right."

Twitter user Suzanne (@425suzanne) wrote in response to his statement: "I admit I'm not familiar w/ your work, but I will keep track now & make sure to support your roles in the future. Thank you for your stance."

Filipino Twitter user Nico (@NicasioSilang) wrote: "From an Asian-American Hellboy fan: thank you, Ed."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.