Last week it was announced that Ed Skrein was cast for the Hellboy reboot to play the role of Major Ben Daimio, a rugged military member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense who, due to a supernatural encounter, can turn into a jaguar when angered or in pain. In the comics, the character is of Asian heritage and almost immediately when the casting was announced, there was immediate backlash online, which now has led to Ed Skrein stepping down from the role and releasing this statement on all his social media accounts:
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. 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.
Hellboy producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin, Lionsgate and Millennium released a statement to Deadline on Skrein’s departure, saying:
Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision. 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.