Caused To Be Alarmed

While not a huge Hellboy fan–I’ve seen the two Guillermo Del Toro-directed movies and read the occasional comic–I don’t know enough about the character Ed Skrein would have played to comment upon his decision to withdraw from the role.

Though in this day and age, is there really any excuse to cast a white actor in a role that originally was–in this instance–Asian?  Was there a sudden dearth of Asian actors?

And before anyone even thinks it, casting people of color in roles traditionally filled by white people isn’t necessarily the same thing.  For instance, I recall Roland from Steven King’s Dark Tower series of books being white–though it’s been awhile since I read them–and Idris Elba was cast as the role.

So is that being hypocritical?

Not at all, for a few reasons.  First off, are white actors hurting for roles?

And that’s not to diminish how difficult it is to be successful in Hollywood though despite being hard in general, I suspect that if you’re white the odds are greater that you’ll find work consistently.

Does that mean all ALL white actors are doing great?  Of course not, though what it does mean that as an white actor you’re likelier to have significantly better odds of working regularly than black actors.

Or Hispanic actors.  Or Native American actors.

And speaking of Asian actors, the image on the the left is from The Conqueror, a big-budget (for 1956) movie starring John Wayne.

Let that sink in for a moment John Wayne as Genghis Khan.  

Now was there an Asian actor (at the time) with the box-office pull of John Wayne?

Likely not, and one reason why is that roles that would (and definitely should) have been played by Asian people, weren’t.

For instance, he’s a photo from Charlie Chan in Rio from 1941. The actor playing Charlie Chan–holding the magnifying glassimg_0543-1 on the right–is Sidney Toler (if his name didn’t give him away, Toler is as Asian as I am, and I’m definitely NOT Asian). 

And just so you don’t assume that this frankly offensive casting trend is a remnant of the distant past, here’s Joel Gray from Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.

Which was in 1985.

And let’s not forget Ghost In The Shell, which I remember like yesterday–which relatively speaking it was–since it came out earlier this year.


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