In another case of questionable casting in Hollywood, Ed Skrein has been cast as Major Ben Daimio in the Hellboy reboot.
Skrein joins David Harbour, Ian McShane and Milla Jovovich. Harbour will be playing our favourite demonic hero, McShane will be is adoptive father, and Jovovich will play the villainess the Blood Queen.
Skrein will play Daimio, who is of Japanese descent. Skerin is half Jewish-Austrian and half English. Daimio is Asian-American and is a member of the military me in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. This casting follows a string of controversial cases of race-bending of Japanese characters to Caucasian. In this particular case Hellboy is not a Japanese property that is being adapted for the West. Daimio is a Japanese character within the U.S. Marine Corps and the Bureau.
Daimio first appeared in 2004 in the comic series based on the secret government organization. He also has unique ability, he is able to transform into a were-jaguar when he is under stress. He is also disfigured on the left side of his face, his disfigurement is connected to how he developed his ability.
This is just another case of unnecessary whitewashing. There is no reason to not have cast a Japanese actor. It is actually detrimental to this project. Firstly, it is a reboot of beloved films directed by Guillermo del Toro, who is not directing this reboot. Ron Perlman is not reprising his role, he has been linked to be a crucial part of the Hellboy character. These two were the lifeline of the original films, and not having them on board deflates excitement for the reboot. Secondly, by denying a Japanese actor the ability to play Japanese character the project will have limited appeal to Japanese, and Asian audiences stateside and overseas. In this current climate the industry cannot afford to alienate potential moviegoers. Also, the backlash will hurt sales and will those involved will be burdened with questions and scrutiny. Finally, it is completely unnecessary since the character is not a lead character, and will most likely have limited screentime compared to the hero, hero’s father, and villain.
It will be interesting to see how this casting effects the project moving forward, I suspect many fans will be very displeased and won’t let the producer, director, or Skrein forget it.