Back in August, Ed Skrein became part of Neil Marshall's Hellboy reboot as Major Ben Daimio, a powerful member of the B.P.R.D. with the ability to turn into a tiger when angry. There was only problem with the casting though: Daimio is Japanese-American in the comics and Ed Skrein is definitely not. Fans were understandably upset by this choice, especially since it was yet another entry in the long list of white actors that were cast in Asian roles in the last few years.
Fan backlash was quite strong, but then an unexpected champion emerged. #EdSkrein himself announced he'd be dropping out of the film to give the studio the chance to make things right and cast an Asian actor in his previous role:
"I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately [...] It is our responsibility to make more 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."
It seems the producers took it all to heart and are seeking to make things right, if the latest casting news is to be believed.
Meet Your (Possible) New Major Daimio
According to The Hollywood Reporter, #DanielDaeKim (Lost, Hawaii Five-0, the Divergent franchise) is in negotiations to replace Skrein as Ben Daimio. Keep in mind, his casting isn't a done deal just yet, but the fact that we're hearing about it makes him getting the role quite likely. If the negotiations go through, Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen would mark Kim's third appearance in a comic book film, following minor roles in Ang Lee's Hulk and 2004's Spider-Man 2.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Kim is also a strong advocate for better Asian representation in the entertainment industry. Back in July, the actor (alongside costar Grace Park) took to Facebook to announce his departure from #HawaiiFive0 after he fought, to no avail, for equal pay as his co-stars:
"Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren't able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue [...] As an Asian American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well developed, three dimensional character like Chin Ho."
Bringing A Much-Needed Change To The Entertainment Industry
When Skrein first departed #RiseoftheBloodQueen –– even though there was a lot of support for his decision –– there were some who just didn't understand why he left, feeling it was an overreaction. But his actions were quite commendable, and a fitting move in the fight for diversity. As an actor in the incredibly competitive world of Hollywood, it's incredibly tough to let go of a role, especially one that will be part of a franchise. But Skrein did it, and it's opened the door for true change.
This is a great lesson for studios, because it shows that it's never too late to make things right. His bold move raised hope for change, as MacGyver star Cindy Chu stated:
"What Ed has done will echo through the industry. He's set a new level of integrity for white actors to do their part in making sure whitewashing is discontinued."
Granted, this won't turn things around right away. Progress is a slow road, but seeing these first steps finally becoming a reality is truly amazing. Kim is a phenomenally talented actor so we'll hopefully get to see his Ben Daimio fight alongside #Hellboy when the reboot lands in theaters sometime in 2018.
Are you happy with Kim's possible casting in the Hellboy reboot? Let me know in the comments!