Director Tim Burton is addressing the lack of diversity in his films, including in his latest project, “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children”. Based on the best-selling series of books by Ransom Riggs, “Miss Peregrine’s” does have one notable casting exception- for the first time in Burton’s career, a black actor has a lead role.
While the characters in “Miss Peregrine’s” are notably white, Samuel L. Jackson features in a major role as Barron, the main antagonist in the movie which sees a caretaker (Eva Green) protect a group of children who possess special powers.
In an interview with Bustle, the director addresses the lack of diversity in his body of work.
“Nowadays, people are talking about it more,” Burton says of on-screen diversity. The director adds, “things either call for things, or they don’t. I remember back when I was a child watching ‘The Brady Bunch’ and they started to get all politically correct, like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black — I used to get more offended by that than just — I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that’s great. I didn’t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.”
As the villainous Barron who leads a group aimed at destroying children with supernatural abilities, Jackson admits that he “noticed” the lack of diverse representation on screen in Burton’s films, though it didn’t deter him from taking the role.
“I had to go back in my head and go, how many black characters have been in Tim Burton movies?” Jackson says. “And I may have been the first, I don’t know, or the most prominent in that particular way, but it happens the way it happens. I don’t think it’s any fault of his or his method of storytelling, it’s just how it’s played out. Tim’s a really great guy.”
With 36 films under his belt as director, Bustle writes that Jackson appears to be the first black actor to have a lead role in a Burton film. Burton has cast actors of colour before, but never as one of the leads. Billy Dee Williams starred as Harvey Dent in 1989’s “Batman” and Michael Clarke Duncan appeared in “Planet Of The Apes” in 2001, though both are considered supporting roles.