One of Hollywood’s most recent examples of whitewashing has been set right, with Daniel Dae Kim set to appear in the upcoming “Hellboy” reboot, taking over the role vacated by Ed Skrein, who left the project after public outcry over the Caucasian actor having been cast as an Asian character.
Kim confirmed the news in a statement obtained by ET Canada: “I’m excited to confirm that I’ve officially joined the cast of ‘Hellboy’. We start shooting today and I’ll be playing Ben Daimio, alongside our very talented cast, headed by David Harbour, and director, Neil Marshall,” he assured. “Thank you for all the supportive tweets and comments, especially in light of the recent events surrounding its original casting.”
“To that, I will only add that I applaud the producers and, in particular, Ed Skrein for championing the notion that Asian characters should be played by Asian or Asian American actors,” Kim continued. “He could not have addressed the issue more elegantly and I remain indebted to him for his strength of character.”
Kim will play Major Ben Daimio, described as “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 comic books upon which the “Hellboy” films are based, the character is Japanese-American, which led to social media protest when Skrein was cast in August (Kim, who previously starred on “Lost”, is actually of Korean descent).
“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,” said Skrein in a statement when he decided to leave the project. “I feel it is important to honour and respect that.”
The studio behind the upcoming “Hellboy” reboot, Lionsgate, backed up Skrein in a statement of its own: “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.”
Kim, who recently left “Hawaii Five-0” over a salary dispute — reportedly because he and fellow Asian cast member Grace Park (who also left the show) demanded salary parity with the show’s white stars — seems like a solid choice, but how did the Twitterverse see it?
Judging by the overwhelmingly positive flurry of tweets that greeted the news, Lionsgate clearly made the right choice — although some feel that casting a Korean-American as a Japanese-American is just as bad: