Peter Dinklage Shoots Down ‘Whitewashing’ Outcry for Playing ‘Fantasy Island’ Actor Hervé Villechaize

Peter Dinklage is responding to criticism that his casting as “Fantasy Island” and “The Man With the Golden Gun” star Hervé Villechaize amounts to “whitewashing.”

In an interview published by Entertainment Weekly Wednesday, Dinklage clarified that Villechaize is not of Filipino descent, as many of Dinklage’s critics assumed, and that those people who have used the phrase “whitewashing” are unfairly jumping to conclusions.

“Personally, I would never do that, and I haven’t done that, because he wasn’t,” the “Game of Thrones” star told EW. “What they’re doing is judging and assuming what he is ethnically based on his looks alone.”

Also Read: Peter Dinklage Is ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ in Teaser Trailer for ‘My Dinner With Hervé’ (Video)

Dinklage said that Villechaize was French-born of German and English descent, but that he saw on Wikipedia that he was often considered Filipino. He further clarified that Villechaize’s specific dwarfism had to do with his appearance, which may have led to some of the misinformation.

“It’s strange these people are saying he’s Filipino. They kind of don’t have any information,” Dinklage continued. “I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes or sense of justice because I feel the exact same way when there’s some weird racial profile. But these people think they’re doing the right thing politically and morally and it’s actually getting flipped because what they’re doing is judging and assuming what he is ethnically based on his looks alone. He has a very unique face and people have to be very careful about this stuff.”

He also said that his casting shouldn’t be compared to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which features a notorious example of Asian whitewashing in which Mickey Rooney portrays an Asian man.

Dinklage said he’s met Villechaize’s family, who knew him to be a “proud” person who would’ve been of his heritage if he were Filipino.

Also Read: Peter Dinklage Is Now the Most-Nominated Actor in the Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Category

“Hervé would be laughing at this right now, and part of me is too,” Dinklage said. “But when I start to be accused of things that are not truthful and not real, that’s when you want to say, “OK, calm down.”

Dinklage stars as Villechaize in HBO’s upcoming biopic “My Dinner With Hervé” alongside Jamie Dornan. The film documents Villechaize’s career and hard-partying lifestyle leading up to his death by suicide in 1993.

As Dinklage describes it, “My Dinner With Hervé” is a film specifically about not judging a book by its cover. It delves into how Villechaize fought for equal pay as his “Fantasy Island” co-stars and was often typecast because of his dwarfism. For that very reason, Dinklage was initially reluctant to play Villechaize but ultimately could relate, describing in the interview how he turned down a role to play one of Santa’s elves in a commercial early in his career.

Also Read: ‘Game of Thrones’ Star Peter Dinklage Stares Down Morgan Freeman in Super Bowl Ad (Video)

Dinklage also shared an interesting note saying that the word “midget” is like “the n-word if you’re a small person,” but that Villechaize once wore a shirt that read “Bionic Midget” and pushed issues as they related to language and representation.

“I can say the word. It’s not a great word. But he beat people to the punch with the word, and he had a big middle finger up to anyone who tiptoed around any issues they had. Which I also respect,” Dinklage said. “Sometimes I think we tiptoe around the issue so much we never address it. He was lovely in that way. He offended a lot of people, but that was part of his joy as well.

“My Dinner with Hervé” premieres on HBO on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Natalie Portman on ‘Annihilation’ Whitewashing Accusations: ‘More Diversity in All Films’ Needed

‘Mulan’ Fans Thank Disney for Not Whitewashing Live-Action Movie by Casting of Chinese Star

Riz Ahmed, Jessica Chastain Praise Ed Skrein’s ‘Hellboy’ Exit Over Whitewashing: ‘Respect’

Peter Dinklage is responding to criticism that his casting as “Fantasy Island” and “The Man With the Golden Gun” star Hervé Villechaize amounts to “whitewashing.”

In an interview published by Entertainment Weekly Wednesday, Dinklage clarified that Villechaize is not of Filipino descent, as many of Dinklage’s critics assumed, and that those people who have used the phrase “whitewashing” are unfairly jumping to conclusions.

“Personally, I would never do that, and I haven’t done that, because he wasn’t,” the “Game of Thrones” star told EW. “What they’re doing is judging and assuming what he is ethnically based on his looks alone.”

Dinklage said that Villechaize was French-born of German and English descent, but that he saw on Wikipedia that he was often considered Filipino. He further clarified that Villechaize’s specific dwarfism had to do with his appearance, which may have led to some of the misinformation.

“It’s strange these people are saying he’s Filipino. They kind of don’t have any information,” Dinklage continued. “I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes or sense of justice because I feel the exact same way when there’s some weird racial profile. But these people think they’re doing the right thing politically and morally and it’s actually getting flipped because what they’re doing is judging and assuming what he is ethnically based on his looks alone. He has a very unique face and people have to be very careful about this stuff.”

He also said that his casting shouldn’t be compared to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which features a notorious example of Asian whitewashing in which Mickey Rooney portrays an Asian man.

Dinklage said he’s met Villechaize’s family, who knew him to be a “proud” person who would’ve been of his heritage if he were Filipino.

“Hervé would be laughing at this right now, and part of me is too,” Dinklage said. “But when I start to be accused of things that are not truthful and not real, that’s when you want to say, “OK, calm down.”

Dinklage stars as Villechaize in HBO’s upcoming biopic “My Dinner With Hervé” alongside Jamie Dornan. The film documents Villechaize’s career and hard-partying lifestyle leading up to his death by suicide in 1993.

As Dinklage describes it, “My Dinner With Hervé” is a film specifically about not judging a book by its cover. It delves into how Villechaize fought for equal pay as his “Fantasy Island” co-stars and was often typecast because of his dwarfism. For that very reason, Dinklage was initially reluctant to play Villechaize but ultimately could relate, describing in the interview how he turned down a role to play one of Santa’s elves in a commercial early in his career.

Dinklage also shared an interesting note saying that the word “midget” is like “the n-word if you’re a small person,” but that Villechaize once wore a shirt that read “Bionic Midget” and pushed issues as they related to language and representation.

“I can say the word. It’s not a great word. But he beat people to the punch with the word, and he had a big middle finger up to anyone who tiptoed around any issues they had. Which I also respect,” Dinklage said. “Sometimes I think we tiptoe around the issue so much we never address it. He was lovely in that way. He offended a lot of people, but that was part of his joy as well.

“My Dinner with Hervé” premieres on HBO on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Natalie Portman on 'Annihilation' Whitewashing Accusations: 'More Diversity in All Films' Needed

'Mulan' Fans Thank Disney for Not Whitewashing Live-Action Movie by Casting of Chinese Star

Riz Ahmed, Jessica Chastain Praise Ed Skrein's 'Hellboy' Exit Over Whitewashing: 'Respect'

Let’s Talk Idris Elba as James Bond and Hollywood’s Recent History With Recasting White Characters (Podcast)

For almost all of Hollywood’s history, the film industry has been guilty of whitewashing — the practice of casting white actors as people of color. But lately a new trend has emerged, exemplified by the possibility of Idris Elba taking over…

For almost all of Hollywood’s history, the film industry has been guilty of whitewashing — the practice of casting white actors as people of color. But lately a new trend has emerged, exemplified by the possibility of Idris Elba taking over as James Bond. Hollywood has tried to improve its record on diversity by casting characters who have historically been white as black.

We talk about it on the latest “Low Key” podcast, where Keith Dennie, Aaron Lanton and I focus on low-key things some people might miss — and discuss their deeper meanings. You can listen on Apple or right here:

Elba fueled the hopes of fans that he’ll be the next Bond when he tweeted over the weekend, tweeting, “My name’s Elba, Idris Elba.” But later he also posted a photo of Public Enemy and their famous lyrics, “Don’t believe the hype.”

If Elba is cast as Bond — and nothing, of course, is certain — he’ll follow in the footsteps of other actors who have replaced characters who were initially white. Samuel L. Jackson took on the role of Nick Fury in the Marvel films, and Michael B. Jordan played Johnny Storm, aka “The Human Torch,” in Fox’s 2015 Marvel reboot of “The Fantastic Four.”

Jordan wrote an essay for Entertainment Weekly noting that some fans weren’t happy about his casting.

“Some people may look at my casting as political correctness or an attempt to meet a racial quota, or as part of the year of ‘Black Film,'” he wrote, adding:

People are always going to see each other in terms of race, but maybe in the future we won’t talk about it as much. Maybe, if I set an example, Hollywood will start considering more people of color in other prominent roles, and maybe we can reach the people who are stuck in the mindset that “it has to be true to the comic book.” Or maybe we have to reach past them.

This summer, Hannah John-Kamen appeared in “Ant-Man and The Wasp” as Ghost, a character who is a blue-eyed man in the comics; I can’t find any explicit reference to his ethnicity. But the casting of a female Ghost shows that the films, at least, are past the idea that a character “has to be true to the comic book,” to quote Jordan.

One of our co-hosts, Keith Dennie, wonders if the racial recasting is a hollow gesture. But we also explore whether more casting should cross color lines. We hope you like the podcast.

Related stories from TheWrap:

We Need a Movie About Native American Activists' 1969 Takeover of Alcatraz (Podcast)

From James Gunn to Josh Hader: The Court of Public Opinion Needs Some Laws (Podcast)

About That Drake Cultural Appropriation Debate… (Podcast)

Thai Cave Rescue Has Everyone Making the Same Scarlett Johansson Joke

Now that the anxiety over the rescue of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand has subsided, it’s time for the jokes — and the wags on Twitter apparently feel they’ve found the ideal butt in Scarlett Johansson.

Following news Tuesday that all 12 players and their coach had been rescued — and that Hollywood has already begun its inevitable rush to turn the real-life drama into a film — social media jokers turned its eyes to Johansson. And essentially made the same joke about the actress, who has more than once been criticized for seeming to take on roles outside of her race and gender.

“Congrats to Scarlett Johansson who just got cast as all 12 Thai soccer players,” one Twitter wiseacre chimed in.

Also Read: Scarlett Johansson Compared to ‘Yellowface’ Mickey Rooney for Trans Film Role

(Very) similarly, there was also, “Scarlett Johansson to play all 12 Thai boys in upcoming rescue thriller.”

“I hope scarlett johansson plays all 12 thai boys and their coach in the film adaptation,” read another, familiar-sounding post.

There were, thankfully, some variations on the theme. Such as, “I can’t wait to see the Oscar winning movie about the Thai Soccer team stuck in the cave that will inevitably be about an all white lacrosse team that gets stuck in a cave in Cabo staring Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton and a Thai person with a one line walk on role.”

Also Read: Here’s Scarlett Johansson’s Sarcastic Response to Critics of Her Casting in ‘Rub & Tug’

And, “BREAKING: in a shocking twist, Scarlett Johansson has NOT been cast as all 12 Thai children in the upcoming film about the cave rescue and instead will only be playing the role of the cave itself.”

And, “Scarlett Johansson just announced to play Thai soccer coach.”

Earlier this month, Johansson came under fire when it was announced that she would star in the upcoming film “Rub & Tug.” The film is based on the life of Dante “Tex” Gill, a massage parlor owner in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and ’80s, who, according to an obituary, was known as “the woman who prefers to be known as a man.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obit also said Gill may have undergone “the initial stages of a sex change that made her appear masculine.”

Also Read: Michael Rapaport Catches Heat for ‘F–ing Awful’ Joke About Thai Cave Rescue Efforts

Online critics took that to mean Gill was a transgender man, and questioned whether Johansson, a woman, is the right person for the role.

The casting was also criticized by trans author Jennifer Finney Boylan, who in a New York Times opinion piece likened it to Mickey Rooney playing an Asian man in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

The actress found herself in a similar position last year, after she was accused of whitewashing for taking on the role of cybernetic hero Motoko Kusanagi in the live-action remake of “Ghost in the Shell.”

Johansson defended her casting in that role, telling “Good Morning America” host Michael Strahan that Kusanagi is an “identity-less” character because of her nature as a cyborg, which is where the series gets its title from.

“I think this character is living a very unique experience in that she has a human brain in an entirely machinate body,” Johansson said. “I would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously. Hopefully, any question that comes up of my casting will be answered by audiences when they see the film.”

Congrats to Scarlett Johansson who just got cast as all 12 Thai soccer players

– Maddy Cole (@maddyelisecole) July 11, 2018

First look at Scarlett Johansson in Thai cave rescue movie. pic.twitter.com/0FWH4MFTzZ

– Consequence of Sound (@consequence) July 11, 2018

Scarlett Johansson to play all 12 Thai boys in upcoming rescue thriller

– T Hux (@iwriterealgood) July 11, 2018

i hope scarlett johansson plays all 12 thai boys and their coach in the film adaptation

– lolly (@lollyadefope) July 10, 2018

I can’t wait to see the Oscar winning movie about the Thai Soccer team stuck in the cave that will inevitably be about an all white lacrosse team that gets stuck in a cave in Cabo staring Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton and a Thai person with a one line walk on role

– Dewayne “Not Dwayne” Perkins (@DewaynePerkins) July 11, 2018

BREAKING: in a shocking twist, Scarlett Johansson has NOT been cast as all 12 Thai children in the upcoming film about the cave rescue and instead will only be playing the role of the cave itself

– huntigula (@huntigula) July 11, 2018

Scarlett Johansson will play the role of the cave https://t.co/YVQWBstczl

– SALBAKUTA KINABALU (@keiakamatsu) July 11, 2018

Scarlett Johansson just announced to play Thai soccer coach. pic.twitter.com/91ivvslgf4

– Gary Janetti (@GaryJanetti) July 10, 2018

If they make a movie about those Thai footballers stuck in a cave I wonder which one of the boys Scarlett Johansson will play?

– Daniel Zennon ???’???” (@dzennon) July 5, 2018

Related stories from TheWrap:

Colbert Hopes Trump Learns the Right Lesson From the Thai Cave Rescue: ‘Freeing Children Makes People Like You’ (Video)

Michael Rapaport Catches Heat for ‘F—ing Awful’ Joke About Thai Cave Rescue Efforts

Producers of Cave Rescue Movie Have Deep Thai Connections: ‘We Didn’t Just Fly on Over for a Story’

Now that the anxiety over the rescue of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand has subsided, it’s time for the jokes — and the wags on Twitter apparently feel they’ve found the ideal butt in Scarlett Johansson.

Following news Tuesday that all 12 players and their coach had been rescued — and that Hollywood has already begun its inevitable rush to turn the real-life drama into a film — social media jokers turned its eyes to Johansson. And essentially made the same joke about the actress, who has more than once been criticized for seeming to take on roles outside of her race and gender.

“Congrats to Scarlett Johansson who just got cast as all 12 Thai soccer players,” one Twitter wiseacre chimed in.

(Very) similarly, there was also, “Scarlett Johansson to play all 12 Thai boys in upcoming rescue thriller.”

“I hope scarlett johansson plays all 12 thai boys and their coach in the film adaptation,” read another, familiar-sounding post.

There were, thankfully, some variations on the theme. Such as, “I can’t wait to see the Oscar winning movie about the Thai Soccer team stuck in the cave that will inevitably be about an all white lacrosse team that gets stuck in a cave in Cabo staring Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton and a Thai person with a one line walk on role.”

And, “BREAKING: in a shocking twist, Scarlett Johansson has NOT been cast as all 12 Thai children in the upcoming film about the cave rescue and instead will only be playing the role of the cave itself.”

And, “Scarlett Johansson just announced to play Thai soccer coach.”

Earlier this month, Johansson came under fire when it was announced that she would star in the upcoming film “Rub & Tug.” The film is based on the life of Dante “Tex” Gill, a massage parlor owner in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and ’80s, who, according to an obituary, was known as “the woman who prefers to be known as a man.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obit also said Gill may have undergone “the initial stages of a sex change that made her appear masculine.”

Online critics took that to mean Gill was a transgender man, and questioned whether Johansson, a woman, is the right person for the role.

The casting was also criticized by trans author Jennifer Finney Boylan, who in a New York Times opinion piece likened it to Mickey Rooney playing an Asian man in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

The actress found herself in a similar position last year, after she was accused of whitewashing for taking on the role of cybernetic hero Motoko Kusanagi in the live-action remake of “Ghost in the Shell.”

Johansson defended her casting in that role, telling “Good Morning America” host Michael Strahan that Kusanagi is an “identity-less” character because of her nature as a cyborg, which is where the series gets its title from.

“I think this character is living a very unique experience in that she has a human brain in an entirely machinate body,” Johansson said. “I would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously. Hopefully, any question that comes up of my casting will be answered by audiences when they see the film.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Colbert Hopes Trump Learns the Right Lesson From the Thai Cave Rescue: 'Freeing Children Makes People Like You' (Video)

Michael Rapaport Catches Heat for 'F—ing Awful' Joke About Thai Cave Rescue Efforts

Producers of Cave Rescue Movie Have Deep Thai Connections: 'We Didn't Just Fly on Over for a Story'

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Team Promises Manga Adaptation Is ‘Not Whitewashing’ Like ‘Ghost In the Shell’

Emotion has a lot to do with the difference between the two Hollywood manga adaptations, says director Robert Rodriguez.

Hollywood’s long-running issue with whitewashing was impossible to ignore in the lead up to Paramount’s “Ghost in the Shell.” The studio received severe backlash for casting Scarlett Johansson in the lead role of its Masamune Shirow manga adaptation, with petitions circulating online to remove Johansson. The film became a case study for Hollywood’s whitewashing problem, and the box office tanked as a result.

Director Robert Rodriguez and producer John Landau are the team behind 20th Century Fox’s Christmas tentpole “Alita: Battle Angel,” which is based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga “Battle Angel Alita.” Similar to “Ghost in the Shell,” “Alita” features a non-Japanese actress in the lead cyborg role. Rosa Salazar, a Canadian actress who appeared in the “Divergent” and “Maze Runner” franchises, is playing the titular character, but Landau assures fans “Alita” is not whitewashing.

“The author, Yukito Kishiro, did something very different: He wrote manga that is not set in an Asian world,” Landau told Vulture. “He wrote it set in a place called Iron City, which is a melting pot. He actually set it in Kansas.”

While Kishiro’s “Alita” took place in an altered version of the United States, Rodriguez’s adaptation transplants the action to somewhere in Latin America during the 26th century where characters speak Spanish, Chinese, English, and Portuguese. Landau told Vulture “Ghost in the Shell” and “Alita” are “totally different” stories.

“[‘Ghost in the Shell’ was] set in a very Asian-specific world,” Landau said. “The central character is a very unemotional character from the manga page. This is the exact opposite. This is a character that is all about heart and following the heart and choosing what is right and not right.”

“One of my favorite shots is Alita shedding a tear. It is about emotion,” he continued. “Whether it’s manga or based on a book or an original script, you can fall into the trap of relying on technology instead of humanity. This is not that.”

Rodriguez agreed with his producer and went as far to state that it was the emotional disconnect between the viewers and the characters that killed “Ghost in the Shell” at the box office, not the issue of whitewashing. According to Box Office Mojo, Paramount spent at least $110 million to produce “Ghost in the Shell.” The film did not cross the $170 million mark at the worldwide box office and only made $40 million worldwide.

“It’s not even because of the whitewashing,” Rodriguez said about “Ghost’s” box office failure. “I think it’s because they didn’t connect emotionally. I felt like I was only looking at it; I wasn’t feeling it. Our story and character feel so relatable. That’s why we used real sets. It’s got to be really grounded.”

Rodriguez said that the script, co-written by James Cameron, grounds the film by focusing on the father-daughter relationship between Alita and the scientist who discovers her and takes her home to care for her. Christoph Waltz is playing the paternal figure.

“Alita feeling insignificant, remembering who she was, becoming powerful — it’s all human stuff that an audience will go, ‘I identify with that,’” Rodriguez said.

20th Century Fox will release “Alita: Battle Angel” in theaters nationwide December 21.

Alex Garland on ‘Annihilation’ Whitewashing: ‘There Was Nothing Cynical or Conspiratorial’ in Casting the Film

The director wrote and cast “Annihilation” based on the first novel in Jeff VanderMeer’s trilogy, which doesn’t reference the lead character’s heritage until the second book.

Alex Garland has broken his silence on the whitewashing backlash against his new film, “Annihilation.” The science-fiction thriller was criticized by the advocacy group Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) for casting Natalie Portman in the lead role, despite the fact her character is described as having Asian heritage in Jeff VanderMeer’s trilogy. However, the character’s race is not mentioned until the second book, and Garland notes he only wrote and cast the movie based on VanderMeer’s first novel.

“The characters in the novel I read and adapted were not given names or ethnicities,” Garland said. “I cast the film reacting only to the actors I met in the casting process, or actors I had worked with before. There was no studio pressure to cast white. The casting choices were entirely mine.”

As Garland previously told Yahoo! Entertainment, he adapted “Annihilation” before VanderMeer’s sequels were even published. In the first book, the characters are only referred to by their professions. Natalie Portman’s character is named Lena in the movie, for instance, but the “Annihilation” novel only refers to her as the biologist. Garland did not ask VanderMeer about any details in the sequels because he was only interested in adapting the first novel.

Garland reacted further to the whitewashing controversy in a statement made to Deadline:

This is an awkward problem for me, because I think whitewashing is a serious and real issue, and I fully support the groups drawing attention to it.

 But the characters in the novel I read and adapted were not given names or ethnicities.  I cast the film reacting only to the actors I met in the casting process, or actors I had worked with before.  There was no studio pressure to cast white.  The casting choices were entirely mine.

As a middle-aged white man, I can believe I might at times be guilty of unconscious racism, in the way that potentially we all are.  But there was nothing cynical or conspiratorial about the way I cast this movie.

“Annihilation” opens in theaters nationwide February 23 via Paramount Pictures.

‘Annihilation’ Director Alex Garland On Whitewashing Accusations: “Nothing Cynical Or Conspiratorial” In Movie’s Casting

Just as Paramount/Skydance’s sci-fi adventure Annihilation was heating up in its word of mouth before its February 23 release, two advocacy groups this week — MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans) and American Indians in Film and Television — took aim at the film for whitewashing its two leading characters, played by Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. This despite the fact Annihilation features an inclusive cast and is largely female-driven with Gina…

Just as Paramount/Skydance’s sci-fi adventure Annihilation was heating up in its word of mouth before its February 23 release, two advocacy groups this week — MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans) and American Indians in Film and Television — took aim at the film for whitewashing its two leading characters, played by Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. This despite the fact Annihilation features an inclusive cast and is largely female-driven with Gina…

Natalie Portman Wasn’t Aware Her ‘Annihilation’ Casting Was Whitewashing and Knows It ‘Sounds Problematic’

“Annihilation” is based on the first book in a trilogy, where the lead characters heritage isn’t discussed until the second novel.

Natalie Portman has responded to backlash criticizing her film, “Annihilation,” of whitewashing the lead character. Yahoo Entertainment asked the Oscar winner to address the controversy during a video interview, and Portman revealed that she wasn’t even aware the film had whitewashed her role. The interview was the first time she was hearing about the issue.

“I actually didn’t know that,” Portman said. “I’m hearing that for the first time. That does sound problematic, but I’m hearing it here first.”

As director Alex Garland has explained, “Annihilation” is based on the first of three novels by Jeff VanderMeer. The author writes in the second novel that the lead character, which Portman plays in the movie, has “high cheekbones that speak to the strong Asian heritage on one side of her family.” Garland, however, only adapted the first novel. The sequels had not been published yet when Garland was writing the script, and he didn’t even want to talk to VanderMeer about them because he was only concerned with the first story.

“I knew at that time there were supposed to be three books planned,” Garland told Yahoo! last year, “but I didn’t know [anything] about the other two.”

Garland went on to tell Nerdist that he would never intentionally whitewash the film. When he was writing and casting “Annihilation,” Garland was not aware the character would be revealed as mixed race in the sequel. The whitewashing in “Annihilation” may not be deliberate, but Portman still told Yahoo! it was problematic and called for greater representation on the big screen for minority actors.

“We need more representation of Asians on film, of Hispanics on film, of blacks on film, women and particularly women of color, Native Americans — I mean, we just don’t have enough representation,” Portman said. “And also these categories like ‘white’ and ‘nonwhite’ — they’re imagined classifications but have real-life consequences…And I hope that begins to change, because I think everyone is becoming more conscious of it, which hopefully will make change.”

“Annihilation” opens in theaters nationwide February 23.

‘Annihilation’ Whitewashing Controversy: Alex Garland Criticized For Casting Natalie Portman in Mixed Race Role

The book series “Annihilation” is based on describes its main character, played by Portman in the film, as having Asian heritage.

Annihilation” is facing backlash over the casting of Natalie Portman in the lead role. Advocacy group Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) is criticizing director Alex Garland for whitewashing the role. In the book series written by Jeff VanderMeer (“Annihilation” is based on the first novel in a trilogy), the lead character is described as having “high cheekbones that speak to the strong Asian heritage on one side of her family.” Portman, whose mother is American and father Israeli, was cast in the role.

MANAA has spoken out against “Annihilation” over the casting decision, saying the film “fails to take advantage of the true identities of each character.” The group explains that “Hollywood rarely writes prominent parts for Asian American and American Indian characters,” and the lead role in “Annihilation” could’ve “bolstered the careers of women from those communities.”

“Annihilation” stars Portman as a biologist who joins a task force of scientists and enters an environmental disaster zone known as Area X. One of the group’s members is a psychologist played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, whose role is similarly being criticized as an example of whitewashing since VanderMeer’s novel describes her character as half white, half American Indian. Supporting roles in “Annihilation” are played by minority actors, including Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Benedict Wong.

Garland addressed the whitewashing concerns in an interview with Nerdist. The writer-director denied intentionally whitewashing the film, saying he was not aware of his characters’ heritages. As Vulture points out, the main character’s “strong Asian heritage” isn’t discussed until the trilogy’s second novel, “Authority.” Garland says he wrote his “Annihilation” script based only on VanderMeer’s first book.

“It would not be in my nature to whitewash anything,” Garland told Nerdist. “That just wouldn’t be like me. I read a book and I adapted it because I thought the book was amazing.”

“Annihilation,” which is earning strong buzz from critics, opens in theaters nationwide February 23 via Paramount Pictures.

Animation’s Whitewashing Problem: ‘Rick and Morty,’ ‘BoJack Horseman,’ ‘The Simpsons’ Producers On How To Fix It

The problem isn’t just with Apu. Several shows feature characters of color voiced by white actors — but producers are finally realizing that this defeats the idea of on-screen representation.

When “Rick and Morty” writer Jessica Gao wrote the episode “Pickle Rick” last season, she created a character named Dr. Wong, with an eye toward casting an Asian American actress in the part. But then Susan Sarandon suddenly became available, and the Oscar-winning actress was tapped for the role instead.

Adding insult to injury: The character’s last name stayed the same, which meant a white actress ultimately played family therapist Dr. Wong.

“The whole point of writing a character like Dr. Wong was because I wanted there to be an Asian character on ‘Rick and Morty,'” Gao said. “And I also specifically wanted to give a job to an Asian actress.”

While Hollywood’s embarrassing practice of tapping white actors to play characters of color has at least become a hotly discussed issue in the live action world (think Emma Stone in “Aloha” and Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell”), things are more clouded in animation, where the practice is also still common.

Among the white actors currently playing characters of color are writer Mike Henry, who created and voices Cleveland Brown, an African-American character on “Family Guy” (and the four-season spinoff “The Cleveland Show”); Alison Brie as Diane Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American writer, on “BoJack Horseman”; and Hank Azaria, the star behind Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon for 29 seasons on “The Simpsons.”

“I think people sometimes take issue with individual cases because they love a certain character or a certain show, but this conversation is really about the systemic lack of representation for people of color,” Gao said. “I think people are more conscious of it. But change is very slow.”

A long overdue discussion is finally starting to happen at these shows, spurred by the growing realization by showrunners that they’ve missed the point of representation. Including characters of color is the first step — but casting those roles with white actors doesn’t really fulfill the promise of inclusiveness.

Apu, voiced by Hank Azaria

Fox/Shutterstock

At the recent Television Critics Association press tour, Azaria told reporters that “The Simpsons” was mulling how to address the future of Apu and what the show might do differently with the character. “The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on ‘The Simpsons,’ the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing,” he said.

The fact that Apu is voiced by a white actor is just part of the problem, as many viewers have also cringed over the years at the stereotype of a South Asian man. “The Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean told IndieWire that he recently watched the documentary “The Problem with Apu,” in which comedian Hari Kondabolu interviewed celebrities of South Asian descent about the negative impact that the character has had on them.

“We’ve talked about it,” Jean said of his writers’ room. “Some people are offended by the character and I take that very seriously. Others really love the character. It’s a difficult choice. I don’t want to offend people but we also want to be funny. We don’t want to be totally politically correct. That has never been us. It’s given us a lot of thought.”

In his film, Kondabolu says he’s often told to “let it go” — but he feels like he’s been “letting it go” for 28 years. “I have always loved ‘The Simpsons,'” he said on screen. “It shaped me into the person and the comedian that I am today. I know Apu is one of the smartest characters on ‘The Simpsons’ — granted the bar isn’t very high — but it’s not why people liked him. They just liked his accent.”

Jean said “The Simpsons” has made an effort in recent years to cast more actors of the same ethnicity as their characters. For example, Kevin Michael Richardson (“The Cleveland Show”) is now a regular.

“It’s a complex issue,” he said. “‘Bob’s Burgers’ has men playing women. Six of our main regulars are women and have been, from the beginning, playing boys. No one’s got a problem with that. I think in the future it will be more people of the same ethnicity playing those characters. But also as someone who also hopes that rules continue to be broken, I’d hate to see it be a really hard and fast strict rule. On our show, Kevin plays characters who aren’t African American. Believe me, I’m very aware of the issue. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.”

“Family Guy” executive producer Rich Appel said he believed animation was “color-blind, sex-blind, ethnicity-blind,” and noted that Cleveland was based on a guy that Henry knew with a distinctive voice. “No one does it as well as Mike,” he said. “That character was born with that voice.”

As a bit of an acknowledgment that it was unusual to have Henry playing a black character, the rest of “The Cleveland Show’s” cast was African-American, including Richardson, who also played a white next-door neighbor in addition to Cleveland’s son Cleveland Jr. But Appel said, “If we write a character who’s a certain ethnicity, the odds are we’re going to cast that ethnicity.”

Echoed fellow executive producer Alec Sulkin: “I would say we’re generally aware of it. If we’re creating a character that’s a certain ethnicity, I think our instinct now is certainly to look for an actor or actress of that ethnicity to play it.”

Both “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” were created decades ago, when whitewashing wasn’t as prevalent a Hollywood topic as it is now. That doesn’t excuse it, but it does explain why some producers on more recent animated shows have perhaps felt like they got a pass — if those shows did it, there was an implicit OK for others to do the same.

Cleveland, voiced by Mike Henry

Fox/Shutterstock

“They’re cartoon characters, they’re drawn, you can make them look however you want,” Gao said. “So it feels like it’s arbitrary, who the voice is behind it. And I think that none of this would really be an issue at all if there were more actors of color who get work. But because in every aspect of acting, white actors dominate and there are so few roles for actors of color, that that’s why it’s an issue. It wouldn’t be an issue if there were plenty of roles for everyone. But there aren’t.”

On “BoJack Horseman,” creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg said that an Asian-American actress had actually been cast originally in the role of Diane Nguyen, and had even voiced the show’s first four episodes. But that actress (whom Bob-Waksberg prefers not to name) was contractually obligated to another series — and when that show was renewed, “BoJack” had to replace her. In his haste, Bob-Waksberg opened the casting up to white actresses.

“The truth of the matter is, when you open it up to white actors, there are many more of them,” he said. “And that’s a sad thing about our industry, but a truth. The white actors have had the opportunity to have the experiences over and over again. So we brought in Alison Brie, and she checked all these boxes of experience and could do all of these different things with the character.”

But even at the time, Bob-Waksberg admitted that it felt “a little weird to me. I was definitely aware that that was an issue and that was a problem. But if you look at animation, the precedence feels a little different. I allowed myself to become convinced that this was not as big of a deal in animation. And now I’m not so sure that that is true.

“Part of the issue is, when it comes to animation you convince yourself, anybody can play anything, so it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Will Arnett is not a horse, but he plays a horse. This is what acting is. But I think if you are saying that, and if you are then casting all white people in your main cast, as I did, it betrays that. It’s more of an excuse than a truth. There’s no reason that BoJack couldn’t have been played by an Asian actor. If we had an all-Asian cast except for the person playing Diane, this would be a very different conversation right now.”

Diane, voiced by Alison Brie

Netflix/Shutterstock

Bob-Waksberg was aware of concerns over whitewashing on “BoJack Horseman” and made an effort to improve inclusion in subsequent seasons, and by Season 3 mandated that at least one voice actor of color play a role in each episode. But even then, he realized that wasn’t enough — and like those older shows, he also feared that he was setting a precedent that future animation showrunners might follow. That’s why he’s wanted to have a more open dialogue on this issue, including on social media.

“I think a lot of times this idea of the utopia of color-blind casting leads to laziness or feels like an excuse to not pay attention,” he said. “You need to be more conscious of it than just saying, ‘well, anyone can play anything so it doesn’t really matter.’ I think it does matter. Then you become part of the problem. I would hate the idea that when someone’s casting the next show they look at ‘BoJack’ and they say they can cast a white person as an Asian person and it doesn’t matter. Because the truth is, I think it does matter. This idea of the appearance of representation without true inclusion is not actual representation. In fact, it can be more harmful than helpful.”

Bob-Waksberg said he learned a lot just by listening to Gao on “Whiting Wongs,” the podcast she launched with “Rick and Morty” co-creator Dan Harmon about race and TV writing. That podcast came out of conversations Gao had with Harmon after the disappointment of seeing Sarandon take the Dr. Wong role.

When Sarandon was cast, Gao suggested that Dr. Wong’s name be changed, and “nobody seemed to care. So I went to Dan and he very genuinely asked me why it was important. Not in a flippant way, but because he genuinely didn’t understand why I cared about it so much. So I had this long conversation with him where I talked about why representation is important and how different it is when you grow up never seeing yourself reflected in media.

“It’s so important the few times that a character is written to specifically be a person of color, those opportunities and those characters are so few and far between that it’s so important that those characters are cast in a way that respects their ethnicity,” she said. “There are people who argue, after the Susan Sarandon casting, ‘Why would you be unhappy that she would take the role?’ But it’s bigger than that. It’s more about what this one role means. It’s not like there are multiple Asian American characters on ‘Rick and Morty’ and we lost one out of 100 so it’s not a big deal. We lost one out of one, the only one so far. And that’s why it’s such a big deal… The whole point was to have representation.”

The answer sounds simple, but requires action by showrunners and others in power: Elevating writers of color to more decision-making levels. “Where the cut off happens is when you start looking at the position of power, the people who have their own shows, the executive producers, the showrunners, the story editors in animation, which is different from live action story editors,” Gao said. “That’s where you start seeing that it’s overwhelmingly men and overwhelmingly white men. I think that tells you that it’s a systemic issue and not an individual basis… I think it’s definitely better now than it was 10 years ago. I think people are more conscious of it. But change is very slow.”

Why J.J. Abrams’ Your Name’ Remake Could Be a Golden Opportunity for Hollywood to Get Things Right

It might end in disaster — or, it could let Hollywood prove it knows how to use anime as an instrument of progress.

Imagine that you’re one of the most powerful people in the film business. The sun is just starting to set on another ominously hot September day, but everything looks beautiful and infinite through the floor-to-ceiling windows of your sleek Hollywood office. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that you’re living the dream, because even your wildest fantasies were never this good. The check you got to direct your second “Star Wars” movie had so many digits on it that it looked more like a business card, and the next check someone writes you is going to be blank. And then — pop! — it happens. You get another one of those magical Big Ideas that minted you as a modern titan: What the world truly needs right now is another live-action American remake of a phenomenally popular Japanese anime.

Perfect. A foolproof plan. Sure, Netflix wouldn’t tell you how many of their subscribers actually watched Adam Wingard’s “Death Note,” but your assistant saw a lot of chatter about it online. And yeah, “Ghost in the Shell” didn’t go over so great when it was released in theaters last March, but something about that franchise has always been lost in translation. No, this one is going to be different.

Last night, it was announced that J.J. Abrams is planning to produce an English-language remake of Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name,” the heartrending animated juggernaut that recently grossed more than $350 million worldwide (though only $5 million of its haul came from the U.S.). And judging by the reactions on social media, Americans haven’t been this excited about anything since the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill (how’s that going, by the way?). What the hell did Abrams think was going to happen? Has he spent so much time in a galaxy far, far away that he’s forgotten how to read the room? Or is reading the room just for chumps who aren’t strong enough to rearrange the furniture themselves?

Anime has found itself as an unlikely focal point of America’s ongoing identity crisis. At a time when brands have becoming bigger selling points than stars, Hollywood has decided that it would be more profitable to cannibalize pre-existing culture — any pre-existing culture — than to establish one of its own. And they’ve taken this plan worldwide. They’ve weathered the storms of digital upheaval by selling whiteness to international markets as a foreign commodity, making movies for Asian audiences at the expense of Asian-American ones.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, systemic prejudice has been forcefully dragged back into the discourse, and questions of race and representation are being asked to people who have never had to answer them before. So that’s not great timing; in fact, it’s such not great timing that it could be the subject of a story by Makoto Shinkai.

On the other hand, the idea of borrowing and building upon narratives from other nations is considerably older than the movies themselves, and — when done right — can be one of the most beautiful things about storytelling. We used to be pretty good at it, too, and the obvious examples of this cross-cultural exchange still hold up as the best ones (e.g. Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” was inspired by the Westerns of John Ford, and then itself remade as “The Magnificent Seven”). There’s real value in transposing great stories to new contexts, but that context has to be something more complicated than just “white people.”

Death Note Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley

“Death Note”

James Dittiger/Netflix

And with the “Your Name” remake, it really might be. Pardon the naïveté of thinking that out loud, but this project is a golden opportunity to prove that Hollywood can actually use anime as an instrument of progress. Based on Shinkai’s own novel of the same name and reframing his usual fixations through the lens of Japanese history, “Your Name” starts like a hormonal riff on “Freaky Friday,” morphs into an apocalyptic version of “Portrait of Jennie,” and somehow manages to layer a gender-swapping 12th century tale over the ongoing trauma of 3/11 (Japan’s tsunami) in the meantime. Mitsuha is a small-town girl who dreams of being a boy in the big city. Taki is a dweeby Tokyo kid who isn’t comfortable in his own skin. These two strangers may never have met each other, but a strange celestial event causes them to swap bodies. If only they could find each other and sort things out…

The original film is, at heart, a story about identity, transformation, and the fluidity of the human body; it’s a moving testament to the idea that disparate lives can resonate through one another. Yes, “Ghost in the Shell” played with similar themes, but the live-action version simply used them as an excuse to cast Scarlett Johansson, wrap her in latex, and watch her rappel down skyscrapers.

“Your Name,” in stark contrast, is very much set in the real world; as with a number of Shinkai’s films, its supernatural elements only serve to reinforce the story’s underlying humanity. It’s been at least a decade since Shinkai was first billed as the next Miyazaki, but  there’s a good reason why this movie was so much more popular than his previous efforts: All of his intensely melancholic movies lament the distance that can form between people, but the specificity of this story — particularly in so far as it was inspired by real locations, and aches with the pain of Japan’s collective trauma — actually works to narrow it.

Simply transliterating Mitsuha and Taki’s star-crossed friendship into English, relocating it to the Pacific Northwest, and hoping for the best would be a disaster of its own. Not only would such a lazy strategy result in a remake that’s absent the original’s undercurrents of sadness and hope, it would also disrespect the people who made them possible.

And making all the major characters white… well, how could we believe in a fable about the power of individual identity if it were presented in a framework that inherently denies it? The movie couldn’t survive that degree of discordance. Even those viewers who couldn’t possibly care less about anime or any of the conversations it tends to inspire would feel shortchanged — you don’t have to know how deep a pool gets to recognize when you’re swimming in the shallow end.

Scarlett Johansson plays Major in Ghost in the Shell from Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures.

“Ghost in the Shell”

Paramount Pictures

But these are all bad-faith assumptions (however well founded they may be), because we’re still at the point where this projective could go down as a positive thing. For one thing, Abrams’ Bad Robot company was quick to introduce a diversity quota in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite debacle, and many of their recent hires have suggested they haven’t forgotten that promise.

For another, the decision to hire “Arrival” screenwriter Eric Heisserer — who pulled blood from a stone in order to transform Ted Chiang’s elliptical short story into a profoundly humanistic sci-fi story — suggests that Abrams isn’t interested in doing things the easy way (even if some people may have preferred a Japanese scribe to land the gig).

When the news broke, Shinkai was quick to make clear that “Your Name” was “created with the innate imaginations of a Japanese team and put together in a domestic medium.” He then added: “When such a work is imbued with Hollywood filmmaking, we may see new possibilities that we had been completely unaware of.” Heisserer, at the very least, is someone capable of envisioning what those new possibilities might be. It’s one thing to play with this premise in an animated form, where everything is vaguely unreal. It’s a very different matter to put real flesh to a film like this, as even the most innocuous scenes will be endowed with sensitive messaging (the first act alone is full of potentially major moments of trans visibility).

While anime adaptations have become synonymous with marginalization, this is a moonshot opportunity to move in the right direction. America is being pulled apart from the inside out, and those endemic problems have only been exacerbated by our own recent string of natural disasters. By unimpeachably confronting the specific things that are wedging us away from each other, “Your Name” could be a beautiful chance to fulfill the driving hope behind all of Shinkai’s films, trace the distance between us, and actually bring people closer together. Or it could be some more of the same old shit. Only time will tell.

Why ‘Death Note’ Is Guilty of Whitewashing, and What We Can Do to Prevent More Movies Like It

The manga adaptation, which casts a white actor in its lead role, is now on Netflix. How can we parse the uproar that has greeted its release?

So Netflix’s “Death Note” is finally available to stream around the world, and everyone is completely thrilled about it with no reservations whatsoever, the end.

Just kidding. While the release of Adam Wingard’s controversial manga adaptation has been overshadowed by everything from Hurricane Harvey to “Game of Thrones” and even a different story of Hollywood white-washing (albeit one with a happy ending, thanks to actor Ed Skrein agreeing to remove himself from the “Hellboy” remake), the movie has been kicking up a fuss ever since it was first announced that none of its major characters would be played by actors of Asian descent. The case may not be quite as cut-and-dry as it was with this year’s ill-conceived “Ghost in the Shell” remake, but the discussion around it may be even more valuable for that.

Below, IndieWire critics David Ehrlich and Hanh Nguyen dig into the issue.

David: In my less-than-enthusiastic review of the film, I wrote the following:

Whitewashing is never a purely aesthetic act; it’s always an indication of a deeper rot. In this case, it pointed toward an inability or unwillingness to meaningfully engage with the source material. The only reason to take such a uniquely Japanese story and transplant it to Seattle is to explore how its thorny moral questions might inspire different answers in an American context, so for this retread to all but reduce America to its whiteness indicates an absence of context more than anything else. It’s the most glaring symptom of a film that utterly fails to investigate its premise and wastes a handful of goofy performances and a gluttonous degree of hyper-violence in the service of a total dead end. Why go through all the trouble of setting “Death Note” in America if you’re not going to set it in the real one?

Hanh, am I off-base about this one, or did it bug you, too?

Hanh: This version of “Death Note” was frustrating, for many of the reasons you mentioned in your review, and the whitewashing just added that extra layer of insult. This story, like many taken from the most popular anime or manga, has cultural significance to Japan. For example, “Akira” is about post-war Japan, even though it’s set in “Neo Tokyo.” In particular with “Death Note,” the concept of a death god is very common in Japanese lore, and therefore comes with a set of expectations or rules. Setting the story in Seattle and not having anyone Asian American play the role of Light Yagami, now Light Turner, removed that context.

Death Note Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley

“Death Note”

James Dittiger/Netflix

David: Agreed. There were definitely attempts to change the story for its new setting, and Light’s relationship with the (increasingly sociopathic) Mia character is an interesting way to shrink a mammoth mythology down to a feature-length installment, but the original “Death Note” is so culture-specific, and it seemed like Wingard and his team decided to ignore that altogether rather than grapple with what it meant, and how it might be altered.

Sure, Light is a lot dumber in this version, and there’s something intrinsically American about how he can’t help but tell his crush about his magic book that kills people (intrinsic to the rules of American high school movies, at least), but the vanilla treatment suggests that race/culture/identity isn’t important to this story. In which case, genre stylings notwithstanding, whiteness — and a lack of Japaneseness — become some of the only notable ways that this film differentiates itself from the previous iterations of this property. And that doesn’t sit well. Neither does the implication that whiteness is synonymous with the American experience.

For me, that was what made this more egregious than a lot of remakes of Asian films. “The Departed,” for example, leans so hard into its Boston setting that it becomes a completely new thing altogether. But the laziness of this adaptation, particularly in such a charged cultural climate, struck me in a different way.

Hanh: Right, and the point you had of being American doesn’t equate with being white is a the crux of all of this because when we’re talking about representation, it’s very specifically about representation in America. There was a story last year about how the Chinese didn’t mind that Matt Damon’s character was the white savior in “The Great Wall.” Well, of course not.

These are two issues at work here. One, being a native in an Asian country puts you in the majority, and therefore, representation of Asians is everywhere in those films. It’s Asian Americans who need better representation in their own country. Secondly, I’m going to cite writer Jeff Yang here about his thoughts on film marketing. International markets and especially Asian ones, have been used to a diet of white stars as stars of American imports. It’s familiar and therefore bankable. Even smaller films that feature lesser known actors are still more attractive if a white face is in it because it’s ‘foreign’ to them, but also as Yang puts it, it’s “easier to sell a random white dude in Asia than [a] random Asian dude.”

Of course, whitewashing doesn’t continue to happen just because of money, although that’s a huge part of it. No one wants to be considered racist, but there’s an implicit bias to not think of Asian Americans as Americans at all. Our faces read as foreign.

Then there’s the stereotype of Asians as hard workers who won’t rock the boat and speak up, which is clearly not the case lately at least. In fact, Asian Americans are calling actors out by name now for accepting whitewashed roles. Perhaps my favorite examples is the AsianAF show that created the t-shirt that reads, “Scarlett & Emma & Tilda & Matt,” listing all the actors recently who have played whitewashed roles, and then there was the recent Los Angeles event in May, “Scarlett Johansson Presents: Asian-American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”

Death Note Adam Wingard

Adam Wingard

James Dittiger/Netflix

David: Yeah, I think it usually happens in cases like this not out of malice, but out of minimization. It happens  because white writers/directors/producers don’t even think to address the problem, and they don’t think to address the problem because they’re surrounded by other white people. But, when it comes to “Death Note,” that reading is complicated by the fact that it was produced by Japanese “Heroes” actor Masi Oka, who says he produced the movie to “protect the series.” I don’t bring that up to suggest that he betrayed his people or some way — in general, when we’re discussing this stuff, I tend to think that good-faith dialogues are a lot more constructive than pure accusations, if only because the former promotes growth and the latter triggers defensiveness — but does Oka’s involvement affect your take on this in any way? Was he just in a tough spot?

Hanh: Oka’s presence on the project gave me hope initially, but seeing the result, it’s difficult to believe that he had a huge say in the casting. In the press he did his duty to support the production by saying that they had tried to find an Asian actor for the star, but that they couldn’t find one whose English was good enough. That’s bullshit since Asian Americans are just like other Americans when it comes to the range of their English-speaking skills, and for some, English might be the only language they know.

David: True. The whole “we cast the right actors for the roles” thing doesn’t really pan out when the roles are a problem in the first place. Also, I like Nat Wolff just fine, but he’s not Daniel Day-Lewis. It’s insulting, even to some white film critic who’s just trying to be as woke as possible, to suggest that there’s no age-appropriate Asian-American actor who couldn’t have given a performance of the same caliber. And the Netflix thing only underlines that further, because the movie wasn’t beholden to the box office, it didn’t really need whatever star power Wolff brought to the production.

Death Note Lakeith Stanfield

“Death Note”

James Dittiger/Netflix

Hanh: And to take it back to your previous point, I’d agree that attacking without actual dialogue and education puts people on the defensive, but I’d also say that even thoughtful, salient points often get dismissed as well. Sometimes attention-getters like the t-shirt above, which I also see as a rallying cry for Asian Americans, are tools for explaining our point of view. For example, when Ed Skrein recently landed the “Hellboy” role of Major Ben Daimio, a Japanese American character, he received a tweetstorm asking him to step down and even cited the t-shirt, hoping he didn’t want his name added to it. A few days later, he backed out of the role with a very well-considered statement. His move gave me hope! As a result, I’m sure he’s going to have some Asian producers look for roles for him, and of course maybe other actors will reconsider as well.

David: You’re absolutely right, of course, and it’s the most privileged thing in the world to say, “Please don’t be mean to us, we’re just trying to learn!” In the immortal words of Nick Lowe, sometimes you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. Or, uh, forceful to incite progress. There are a lot of ways to do that, some more effective than others, but clearly the t-shirt did its job. Ditto that the backlash to “Ghost in the Shell,” “Death Note,” and for that matter “Memoirs of a Geisha” and a bunch of other movies in the recent past.

To wrap things up, do you feel that the problems with “Death Note” are categorically different/lesser than those with “Ghost in the Shell?” And even if so, does it even matter?

Hanh: Since there are so many other problems with the adaptation I don’t know if the race issue is bigger than if it were in “Ghost in the Shell,” which has a plot twist in there that is the ultimate in bad messaging when it comes to Asian representation. But in the end I don’t think it really matters to try to gauge the degree of how problematic something is rather than just pointing out that it is problematic. Furthermore, the response to the outcry is probably just as important. The dream is to have more Ed Skreins taking a stand and sending messages to producers. At the same time, I’d like if producers would at least acknowledge the importance of the dialogue instead of either making excuses or worse, rejecting the idea of there being a problem altogether.

“Death Note” is now available to stream on Netflix.

Is ‘Hellboy’ Whitewashing Proof of Hollywood ‘Genocide Through Script Revisions’?

Ed Skrein announced this week that he is dropping out of the upcoming “Hellboy” remake following backlash over a white performer playing a character who is Asian in the comic books. The on-the-rise actor’s exit statement called for increased inclusivity and earned widespread praise.

But this latest example of Hollywood whitewashing raises renewed questions about whether the film industry is indeed making strides in providing leading roles for Asian-American actors and performers of color in general.

“Hopefully, this will mark a turning point in the ever-increasing trend of non-Asian actors taking parts originally written for Asians,” Guy Aoki, founding president of Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), told TheWrap. Skrein’s stance has forced ‘Hellboy’ producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Millennium and Lionsgate to say they will now do what they should’ve done in the first place — find an Asian-American actor to play the part.”

Also Read: ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’: Does It Rely on ‘Troubling’ Racial Stereotypes With White Man Saving Black Criminal?

The “Hellboy” team initially defended last week’s casting announcement of Skrein in the Neil Marshall-directed film that stars David Harbour. Executive producer Christa Campbell wrote in a since-deleted tweet, “Someone comes and does a great audition to get the role. Stop projecting your own s– onto us. We are all one. We don’t see colors or race.” (Campbell also produced “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” a film that has earned criticism for seemingly relying on racial stereotypes.)

Joann Lee, professor at William Paterson University and author of “Asian Americans in the 21st Century,” told TheWrap in reference to Campbell’s tweet, “It’s time for the Hollywood casting mindset to change. Not seeing colors or race is the problem.”

Skrein’s departure from the role of Major Ben Daimio follows flaps over previous films that featured white performers in roles conceived as Asian, including Tilda Swinton in “Doctor Strange,” Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell” and Emma Stone in “Aloha.”

Also Read: Will ‘Hawaii Five-0’ Flap Lead to Changes for Actors of Color?

Additionally, CBS received flak earlier this summer after announcing that Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park had exited “Hawaii Five-0” following unsuccessful contract negotiations.

“This is classic Hollywood — someone is always on the outside looking in,” Matthew Hashiguchi, a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor in multimedia film & production at Georgia Southern University, told TheWrap. “And in the case of Asian-Americans, they’re being completely removed from the story’s existence. It’s like genocide through script revisions.”

Hashiguchi doesn’t understand why these decisions keep getting made, given the outcry that routinely follows.

“Asian America is clearly tuned into this and ready to pounce whenever it happens, so how can someone not have the foresight to realize that whitewashing a character is going to have a negative reaction?” he said. “Asian-Americans are just as tired of this issue as executive producers and studio heads are.”

Peter X Feng, professor at the University of Delaware and an expert on Asian-Americans and the media, believes that while Skrein’s move is meaningful, it doesn’t necessarily signify progress on a bigger scale, particularly when studios don’t appear to be strengthening an effective pipeline to stardom for actors of color.

“I do think Skrein’s decision will make an impact, but this is a two-steps-forward, one-step-back situation,” Feng told TheWrap. “Things will change when the powers that be decide that developing more minority actors is more cost-effective than hiring PR experts to do damage control.”

“Angry Asian Man” blogger Phil Yu told TheWrap that Skrein “sets a powerful precedent” and helps by “placing pressure on actors to avoid taking roles like this.” But Yu pointed out that the issue should have been ironed out before the “Game of Thrones” alum got the part.

Also Read: 4 Reasons Why ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Was A Box Office Malfunction, Despite Scarlett Johansson

“That responsibility shouldn’t fall solely on the performer,” Yu said. “That’s actually near the end of the process. Producers and studios need to be more conscientious about casting to avoid getting into this position in the first place.”

Concerns remain that Hollywood’s struggle with casting Asian-Americans in film and TV leads has ramifications that reverberate far beyond the entertainment sector.

“People can’t pronounce Asian names, and many in the U.S. think that if someone looks Asian, they won’t speak English or are a foreigner,” Hashiguchi said. “This is partially due to the fact that Asian-Americans aren’t introduced to American society through movies and television. We’re perpetual foreigners.”

Representatives for Lionsgate and Neil Marshall declined to comment for this story.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Riz Ahmed, Jessica Chastain Praise Ed Skrein’s ‘Hellboy’ Exit Over Whitewashing: ‘Respect’

‘Hellboy’ Reboot: Ed Skrein Exits After Whitewashing Criticism

Before ‘Ghost in the Shell’: 15 Notorious Cases of Hollywood Whitewashing (Photos)

Scarlett Johansson Defends Her ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Role, Says it Isn’t Whitewashing (Video)

Ed Skrein announced this week that he is dropping out of the upcoming “Hellboy” remake following backlash over a white performer playing a character who is Asian in the comic books. The on-the-rise actor’s exit statement called for increased inclusivity and earned widespread praise.

But this latest example of Hollywood whitewashing raises renewed questions about whether the film industry is indeed making strides in providing leading roles for Asian-American actors and performers of color in general.

“Hopefully, this will mark a turning point in the ever-increasing trend of non-Asian actors taking parts originally written for Asians,” Guy Aoki, founding president of Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), told TheWrap. Skrein’s stance has forced ‘Hellboy’ producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Millennium and Lionsgate to say they will now do what they should’ve done in the first place — find an Asian-American actor to play the part.”

The “Hellboy” team initially defended last week’s casting announcement of Skrein in the Neil Marshall-directed film that stars David Harbour. Executive producer Christa Campbell wrote in a since-deleted tweet, “Someone comes and does a great audition to get the role. Stop projecting your own s– onto us. We are all one. We don’t see colors or race.” (Campbell also produced “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” a film that has earned criticism for seemingly relying on racial stereotypes.)

Joann Lee, professor at William Paterson University and author of “Asian Americans in the 21st Century,” told TheWrap in reference to Campbell’s tweet, “It’s time for the Hollywood casting mindset to change. Not seeing colors or race is the problem.”

Skrein’s departure from the role of Major Ben Daimio follows flaps over previous films that featured white performers in roles conceived as Asian, including Tilda Swinton in “Doctor Strange,” Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell” and Emma Stone in “Aloha.”

Additionally, CBS received flak earlier this summer after announcing that Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park had exited “Hawaii Five-0” following unsuccessful contract negotiations.

“This is classic Hollywood — someone is always on the outside looking in,” Matthew Hashiguchi, a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor in multimedia film & production at Georgia Southern University, told TheWrap. “And in the case of Asian-Americans, they’re being completely removed from the story’s existence. It’s like genocide through script revisions.”

Hashiguchi doesn’t understand why these decisions keep getting made, given the outcry that routinely follows.

“Asian America is clearly tuned into this and ready to pounce whenever it happens, so how can someone not have the foresight to realize that whitewashing a character is going to have a negative reaction?” he said. “Asian-Americans are just as tired of this issue as executive producers and studio heads are.”

Peter X Feng, professor at the University of Delaware and an expert on Asian-Americans and the media, believes that while Skrein’s move is meaningful, it doesn’t necessarily signify progress on a bigger scale, particularly when studios don’t appear to be strengthening an effective pipeline to stardom for actors of color.

“I do think Skrein’s decision will make an impact, but this is a two-steps-forward, one-step-back situation,” Feng told TheWrap. “Things will change when the powers that be decide that developing more minority actors is more cost-effective than hiring PR experts to do damage control.”

“Angry Asian Man” blogger Phil Yu told TheWrap that Skrein “sets a powerful precedent” and helps by “placing pressure on actors to avoid taking roles like this.” But Yu pointed out that the issue should have been ironed out before the “Game of Thrones” alum got the part.

“That responsibility shouldn’t fall solely on the performer,” Yu said. “That’s actually near the end of the process. Producers and studios need to be more conscientious about casting to avoid getting into this position in the first place.”

Concerns remain that Hollywood’s struggle with casting Asian-Americans in film and TV leads has ramifications that reverberate far beyond the entertainment sector.

“People can’t pronounce Asian names, and many in the U.S. think that if someone looks Asian, they won’t speak English or are a foreigner,” Hashiguchi said. “This is partially due to the fact that Asian-Americans aren’t introduced to American society through movies and television. We’re perpetual foreigners.”

Representatives for Lionsgate and Neil Marshall declined to comment for this story.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Riz Ahmed, Jessica Chastain Praise Ed Skrein's 'Hellboy' Exit Over Whitewashing: 'Respect'

'Hellboy' Reboot: Ed Skrein Exits After Whitewashing Criticism

Before 'Ghost in the Shell': 15 Notorious Cases of Hollywood Whitewashing (Photos)

Scarlett Johansson Defends Her 'Ghost in the Shell' Role, Says it Isn't Whitewashing (Video)

‘Hellboy’ Whitewashing Controversy: 5 Japanese Actors Who Could Take on the Embattled Role

Ed Skrein left the reboot after learning that his character is of Japanese heritage, opening the door for an Asian actor to grab the part. Here’s who we’d love to see take the role.

Early last week, white British actor Ed Skrein joined the cast of Neil Marshall’s upcoming “Hellboy” reboot, a casting choice that was immediately derided for its whitewashing of Skrein’s character, a Japanese-American Marine named Ben Daimio (whose family tree includes no less than a famous Japanese spy and war criminal, who also appears in the John Arcudi and Mike Mignola comic book series). In short order, Skrein did something wholly remarkable: he dropped out of the project after learning about Daimio’s heritage.

In an official statement, the actor made it clear that he believed the choice was what was “right,” noting that portraying the part in “a culturally accurate way” was clearly important for audiences (Skrein also pointed to his own “mixed heritage” family in the statement, which you can read here). In a statement published by The Hollywood Reporter, producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Millennium, and Lionsgate came out in support of Skrein’s decision: “Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision. 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.”

While the producers have promised to find a new actor whose background is “more consistent” with the source material, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll opt for an actor of Japanese descent. Too bad, because we’ve already got five possibilities lined up. Get to know them below.

Ken Watanabe

Ken Watanabe in “Godzilla”

Kimberley French

Skrein’s casting was a surprise for another reason beyond his ethnicity: his age. In the “Hellboy” comic books, Daimio is a seasoned Marine who has, in no uncertain terms, been through some stuff. He’s got a slew of military missions under his belt (including one that actually killed him, sort of) and was a faithful soldier for years before rising to the rank of Major. In short, he’s no kid, and while Skrein recently turned 34, there’s plenty of wiggle room for producers to cast someone even older for the role. Again, this is a dude who basically rose from the dead after a mystical mission gone awry, and he’s got the mileage to show for it. Why not opt for a respected class act like Watanabe? The Japanese actor is no stranger to action-heavy roles, from turns in “Godzilla” to “Inception,” “The Last Samurai” to “Letters from Iwo Jima.” He’s even got comic book movie experience, having appeared in “Batman Begins” back in 2005, when he played Ra’s al Ghul’s decoy. No slouch off the screen, Watanabe is also a Tony nominee for his work in the revival of “The King and I,” having picked up a nod for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, making him the first Japanese actor to be nominated in the category. You want a Daimio that’s got gravitas? Watanabe is the guy.

Kōji Yakusho

Kōji Yakusho in “The Third Murder”

Also on the older end of the spectrum is Nagasaki native Yakusho, best known to American audiences for his work in such dramatic fare as “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Babel” and the beloved comedy “Tampopo.”A long-time mega-star in his home country, Yakusho has done it all, from stage to screen to television (and picked up a ton of accolades), though his early career was marked with a slew of samurai roles. Yakusho has always shown a dedication to craft and an interest in changing up his game, perhaps best evidenced by that time he helped inspire no less than a country-wide dance craze with his turn in the smash hit “Shall We Dance?” Now approaching the fourth decade of his career, Yakusho shows zero sign of slowing down, and has this year alone appeared in Cannes hit “Oh Lucy!” and will next be seen in Hirokazu Koreeda’s “The Third Murder.” Could a part in an American comic book adaptation catapult him to yet another level? Without question, and Yakusho is one legend-in-the-making who seems open to such a wild new step.

Tadanobu Asano

Tadanobu Asano in “Silence”

Performing since he was just 16, Asano broke out with his turn in Shunji Iwai’s “Fried Dragon Fish,” which he followed up with a major dramatic turn in Koreeda’s wrenching “Maboroshi no Hikari” (he re-teamed for the director for his wild pseudo-doc “Distance” a few years later). In 2007, he starred as Genghis Khan in Sergey Bodrov’s dazzling “Mongol,” which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (it lost to “The Counterfeiters”), ostensibly the first film in a planned trilogy about the famed conqueror. In recent years, the actor and musician has steadily transitioned from Japanese features to American fare, including turns in films like “Battleship,” “47 Ronin,” and even the “Thor” features (he plays Hogun, one of the Warriors Three). Not sure you know him from those parts? Then try this one: he was the Interpreter in Martin Scorsese’s “Silence,” a complex role that he embodied with ease.

Ryo Kase

Ryo Kase in “Beyond Outrage”

The actor is another Scorsese newbie, having also recently appeared in “Silence” (he played a fellow prisoner in the epic historical drama). The Japanese native moved to Washington state as a child, offering him the kind of Japanese-American experience that is so central to the role of Daimio. He’s worked steadily with both American directors, like Clint Eastwood and Gus Van Sant, along with countrymen Takeshi Kitano and Yukihiko Tsutsumi, plus other lauded filmmakers, from Hong Sang-soo to Michel Gondry. Kase’s range sets him apart from other actors from his generation, and he seems just as comfortable with roles in dramas like “Our Little Sister” as he is in bloody yakuza offerings like the “Outrage” franchise.

Tatsuya Fujiwara

Tatsuya Fujiwara in “Battle Royale”

If the film’s producers want to opt for someone still in Skrein’s age range, “Kaiji” and “Death Note” (the original, of course) star Fujiwara could be a compelling choice. Best known for starring in Kinji Fukasaku’s deliriously effed up “Battle Royale,” Fujiwara has made a career for himself built on balancing hyperviolent and inventive feature work with high-class stage offerings, including turns in both “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet.” Still, Fujiwara has the action bona fides that should help him break through to the next level of fame — read: Hollywood — and a part in a film like “Hellboy” would be both a very natural fit and a major stop forward.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

‘Hellboy’ Whitewashing: Ed Skrein Steps Down From Playing Japanese-American Comic Character

Controversy is already surrounding the latest “Hellboy” movie after Ed Skrein was cast as Major Ben Daimio last week.

The new “Hellboy” film was the latest studio production to cast a Caucasian actor in a role originally written with Asian heritage after “Deadpool” star Ed Skrein was announced last week to be taking on the part of Major Ben Daimio, who is Japanese-American in the comic book. Skrein has issued an official statement announcing he is stepping down from the role in the wake of the controversy.

The latest installment in the franchise, entitled “Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen,” already got off to a rocky start when it was announced original director Guillermo del Toro and star Ron Perlman would not be back. “Game of Thrones” helmer Neil Marshall and “Stranger Things” breakout David Harbour are the director-actor duo in charge this time. The supporting cast includes Ian McShane as the superhero’s adoptive father and Milla Jovovich as the evil villainess.

The whitewashing controversy over Skrein’s casting was especially hard to take given how inclusive del Toro is in his films. It’s hard to imagine a Caucasian actor being cast as Major Ben Daimio with del Toro behind the camera. Daimio is a former U.S. Marine who returns from the dead and joins the The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

Skrein has issued an official statement on his casting. You can read it in full below:

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

‘Hellboy’ Reboot Casts Ed Skrein as Asian Character In the Latest Case of Hollywood Whitewashing

The white British actor has been cast as Major Ben Daimio, who is Japanese American in the comic books.

Why is it always the comic book adaptations that have the hardest time casting actors of color as characters of color? From “Ghost in the Shell,” to “Doctor Strange,” Hollywood studios just don’t seem to understand that honoring source material includes casting actors of color — especially when the role calls for it. The forthcoming “Hellboy” reboot is just the latest example, as white British actor Ed Skrein (“Deadpool”) joins the cast as Major Ben Daimio, who is Japanese American in the comics.

The third movie in the growing franchise is titled “Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen,” and will be directed by “Game of Thrones” helmer Neil Marshall. David Harbour has signed on for the titular role; the cast also includes Ian McShane as the superhero’s adoptive father and Milla Jovovich as the evil villainess. Guillermo del Toro directed the first two movies, “Hellboy” and “Hellboy II: The Rotten Army,” which were both praised for imaginative visuals and endearing characters.

Fans of the first two films will already be on guard knowing del Toro is not behind the camera, as well as with actor Ron Perlman out as the title character. Skrein’s casting may endear the movie to “Deadpool” fans, but it may alienate other potential audiences.

‘Death Note’: Adam Wingard Defends Anime Adaptation Against Whitewashing Claims: ‘It Is a Whole New Thing’

Netflix’s take on a famous Japanese manga stars white actors.

Like a lot of movies made in the last year, “Death Note” has faced criticism for whitewashing its source material. The upcoming Netflix drama is based on a Japanese manga and, not unlike “Ghost in the Shell,” has changed Japanese characters into American ones: Nat Wolff plays Light Turner (the updated version of Light Yagami), while Margaret Qualley is Mia Sutton (Misa Amane).

Director Adam Wingard addressed those claims to Vulture, saying that his take on “Death Note” isn’t “just taking a character and trying to say a white kid is a Japanese kid. It is a whole new thing. The characters are all very different and it is a different kind of experience all together.”

Wingard, who also directed “You’re Next” and “Blair Witch,” got defensive about the same subject a couple months back: “Just clearing up misconceptions.No one has seen the film outside of 2 test screenings,” he tweeted. “Criticisms at this point are based on assumptions.”

Two of the film’s producers spoke up in defense of “Death Note” as well. “I think we got the right actors for the parts that were written,” said Roy Lee, whose prior credits include “The Departed” and “The Ring.” “We didn’t look at race as a factor. We just did the version that was set in the U.S. There are remakes of U.S. movies like ‘Sideways’ in Japan, but there was never a thought for them to bring in American actors to play the [characters] in the Japanese remake.”

“The whole idea of whitewashing is putting white people in roles that were meant to be a different race. But this wasn’t specifically a racially bound story, because it was set in America,” added Masi Oka, late of “Heroes.” “Anyone could have played that title role, whether it was white, African-American, Latino-American, or Asian-American. Anyone could have played that role.” Read their full comments here.

Madame Tussauds Explains Why Beyonce’s Wax Figure Looks So Strange to Fans

Lighten up, Beyonce fans; Madame Tussauds isn’t out to malign your hero.

In the wake of widespread criticism over its wax figure of the “Lemonade” singer, the wax-figure company issued a statement Wednesday explaining the figure’s appearance.

According to Madame Tussauds, a photo of the figure — which is currently on display in Madame Tussauds New York — that began making the social-media rounds Tuesday offers an inaccurate depiction of the figure due to factors beyond their control.

Also Read: Beyonce Wax Figure Sparks Whitewashing Claims From Outraged Fans

“At Madame Tussauds, our talented team of sculptors take every effort to ensure we accurately color match all of our wax figures to the celebrity being depicted,” a Madame Tussauds spokeswoman told TheWrap. “Lighting within the attraction combined with flash photography may distort and misrepresent the color of our wax figures which is something our sculptors are unable to account for at the production stage.”

The museum also provided original photography of the figure, which viewers can see above and draw their own conclusions from.

The outpouring of anger actually sprouted from a compliment, as one Twitter user posted an image of the figure with the caption, “Beyonce wax figure at @MadameTussauds is FIERCE!”

Beyonce’ wax figure at @MadameTussauds is FIERCE! pic.twitter.com/7UDyi9VEWT

– Joe (@CCFan007) July 18, 2017

Also Read: Beyonce Files Trademark Applications for Rumi Carter and Sir Carter After Twins’ Birth

That opinion, however, turned out to be in the minority, with many fans contending that the figure was a far-too-pale imitation of the “Lemonade” singer.

“It’s a good thing you’re not talking about *Beyoncé. cause this white woman is definitely not her,” wrote one disappointed observer.

“Bitch Beyoncé??? This looks more like a Bethany or a Becca or maybe a Britney….,” mused another Twitter user.

Also Read: Jimmy Kimmel Debuts ‘Exclusive First Photo’ of Beyonce and Jay Z’s Twins (Video)

One observer who predicted the museum’s response early on: Actress Ellen Barkin, who tweeted Wednesday, “I’m waiting for Madame Tussaud to say…’It’s just the lighting.’”

I’m waiting for Madame Tussaud to say…”It’s just the lighting” https://t.co/VpwVjtaqwS

— Ellen Barkin (@EllenBarkin) July 19, 2017

Related stories from TheWrap:

Beyonce Wax Figure Sparks Whitewashing Claims From Outraged Fans

Can Beyonce and Jay-Z Trademark Names of New Twins Sir and Rumi?

Beyonce’s Twins Photo Compared to Famous Works of Art on Twitter

Lighten up, Beyonce fans; Madame Tussauds isn’t out to malign your hero.

In the wake of widespread criticism over its wax figure of the “Lemonade” singer, the wax-figure company issued a statement Wednesday explaining the figure’s appearance.

According to Madame Tussauds, a photo of the figure — which is currently on display in Madame Tussauds New York — that began making the social-media rounds Tuesday offers an inaccurate depiction of the figure due to factors beyond their control.

“At Madame Tussauds, our talented team of sculptors take every effort to ensure we accurately color match all of our wax figures to the celebrity being depicted,” a Madame Tussauds spokeswoman told TheWrap. “Lighting within the attraction combined with flash photography may distort and misrepresent the color of our wax figures which is something our sculptors are unable to account for at the production stage.”

The museum also provided original photography of the figure, which viewers can see above and draw their own conclusions from.

The outpouring of anger actually sprouted from a compliment, as one Twitter user posted an image of the figure with the caption, “Beyonce wax figure at @MadameTussauds is FIERCE!”

That opinion, however, turned out to be in the minority, with many fans contending that the figure was a far-too-pale imitation of the “Lemonade” singer.

“It’s a good thing you’re not talking about *Beyoncé. cause this white woman is definitely not her,” wrote one disappointed observer.

“Bitch Beyoncé??? This looks more like a Bethany or a Becca or maybe a Britney….,” mused another Twitter user.

One observer who predicted the museum’s response early on: Actress Ellen Barkin, who tweeted Wednesday, “I’m waiting for Madame Tussaud to say…’It’s just the lighting.'”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Beyonce Wax Figure Sparks Whitewashing Claims From Outraged Fans

Can Beyonce and Jay-Z Trademark Names of New Twins Sir and Rumi?

Beyonce's Twins Photo Compared to Famous Works of Art on Twitter

Whitewashing Video Charts Hollywood’s Shameful History of Offensive Stereotypes & Erasure — Watch

It’s hard to keep track of the many cases of Hollywood whitewashing — this new video does it for you.

A mere sampling of some the films mentioned in Feminist Frequency’s thorough history of Hollywood whitewashing: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Apache,” “Murder Over New York,” “Prince of Persia,” “Aloha,” “Gods of Egypt,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Dr. Strange,” and “A Beautiful Mind.”

READ MORE: Whitewashing Isn’t the Only Problem for Asian American Actors, Who Must Play Offensive Stereotypes

Host Anita Sarkeesian walks us through these examples while laying out in simple terms just why such images are so harmful:

“One of the most insidious tools of white supremacy is its insistence on whiteness as the racial default or as an ethnic ’empty’ category. White people manage to exist in a kind of invisible zone, where they are assumed to not have a race or ethnicity. This allows whiteness to wear the cultural, religious, or social signifiers of other ethnic communities, as if they were merely accessories to be purchased at the mall. Oh wait, they are.”

READ MORE: ‘A Brief History of Hollywood Whitewashing’ Video Traces Controversy Before ‘Ghost in the Shell’ — Watch

Cue hovering images of a dreamcatcher and a kefiyah (a traditional Arab head scarf). Sarkeesian then turns to countless more recent examples of Hollywood casting white actors in roles that are either meant to be people of color in the film (“Aloha”), were originally people of color in the fictional source material (“Ghost in the Shell”), or were originally people of color in the true story on which the films are based (“A Beautiful Mind.”) Not to mention a short clip from “2 Broke Girls” featuring an accented, nerdy Asian character named Han Lee, played by Asian American actor Mathew Moy.

READ MORE: Whitewashing Continues With Zach McGowan Cast As Hawaiian WWII Hero In ‘Ni’ihau’

Seeing all the instances where people of color have either been erased, used as a caricature, or completely written out of their own stories is disheartening, to say the least. But Sarkeesian ends on a high note, touting recent television hits like “Atlanta” and “Master of None,” as well as the record-breaking box office success of “Get Out” as reasons to reverse the trend.

Watch the video below to get a fuller picture:

Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

Netflix’s ‘Legend of the Monkey’ Whitewashing Sparks Petition to Boycott Series

The Australian-New Zealand retelling of an ancient Chinese story doesn’t star any Asian actors.

“Iron Fist.” “Death Note.” Now you can add “Legend of the Monkey” to that list of Netflix projects that are feeling the heat from Asians who are crying whitewashing.

“Legend of the Monkey” is an Australian-New Zealand co-production based on the 16th century Chinese novel “Journey to the West” and attributed to Wu Cheng’en. It tells of the pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang to obtain sacred texts, aided by three disciples from folklore: Sun Wukong the Monkey King, Zhu Bajie also known as Pigsy, and Sha Wujing, aka Sandy. The tale has been told many times on screen before under various names. Japan had a TV adaptation called “Monkey Magic,” and Stephen Chow released a “Journey to the West” film in 2013 with a sequel in 2017.

READ MORE: ‘Death Note’ Producer Responds to Whitewashing Claims, Says It’s ‘Somewhat Offensive’ to New Netflix Movie

In Netflix’s new 10-part series, however, not one of the four main characters appears to be played by an Asian, much less a Chinese actor, according to a Care2 petition. Luciane Buchanan will play a teenage girl who is accompanied by three powerful fallen gods: Monkey (Chai Hansen), Pigsy (Josh Thomson) and Sandy (Emilie Cocquerel).

‘You can’t embrace an identity that you always see represented as the perpetual Other,” Asian-American Lucy Linai, who created the petition, said. “Media producers who replace Asian characters with white actors reinforce the idea that whiteness is the standard and European features are the epitome of beauty, thereby convincing non-white children to loathe their own appearances and develop self-hate. Distributors like Netflix need to hold producers accountable so we can end the practice of whitewashing.”

Check out the petition here.

Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.

Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton Trolled as ‘Honorary Asians,’ This Time for Animated Characters

Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson are getting some heat for voicing characters in a new film, for which a Japanese-themed poster was revealed on Tuesday.

It’s not clear what animated characters Swinton and Johansson are voicing in Wes Anderson‘s upcoming stop-motion film, “Isle of Dogs,” yet Twitter is outraged that the actresses names are printed in English and Japanese kanji on the poster and are trolling them, once again.

Coming to theatres April 20, 2018 #IsleofDogs pic.twitter.com/YQlZJsBhM2

— Isle of Dogs (@isleofdogsmovie) April 25, 2017

Critics argue that this just adds fuel to the fire, given both of their recent movies were accused of whitewashing Asian roles.

See Photo: Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ Gets Release Date, First Poster

“They really placed Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton in Isle of Dogs to reaffirm their Asian ethnicity? Hollywood killin Asians… STILL!” tweeted one user.

“Honorary Asians Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson grace us in Wes Anderson‘s Japan set ISLE OF DOGS #alternativefacts,” tweeted another.

Johansson received severe criticism for playing the cybernetic hero Motoko Kusanagi in the live-action remake of the classic anime, “Ghost in the Shell.”

Also Read: Read Tilda Swinton and Margaret Cho’s Email Exchange About ‘Doctor Strange’ Whitewashing

Swinton was famously cast as “The Ancient One” opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange.” When the film’s trailer hit the web, some fans said casting Swinton was racist because the character was depicted in the comics as being Tibetan — and Swinton is a white British woman.

Set in Japan, “Isle of Dogs” follows a boy’s odyssey as he searches for his pet pooch. As of yet, it’s unclear who Swinton and Johansson even voice in the film. Of course, never mind that other cast members — such as Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston and Edward Norton — also feature in the poster in Japanese writing, although the actors are not Asian.

Representatives for Fox Searchlight, Swinton and Johansson have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

See some reaction tweets below:

@tsengputterman @ubeempress We get not ONE actress who’s proven her skills at playing Asians, but TWO! Ain’t we lucky! I feel so fucking blessed. pic.twitter.com/71Dmn4U3vF

— An Asian on Occasion (@GermanCityGirl) April 25, 2017

They really placed Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton in Isle of Dogs to reaffirm their Asian ethnicity? Hollywood killin Asians… STILL!

— Iggy (@bboy916) April 25, 2017

Honorary Asians Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson grace us in Wes Anderson‘s Japan set ISLE OF DOGS #alternativefacts pic.twitter.com/69Tmey6iuQ

— Natalie (@wednesdaydreams) April 26, 2017

I feel like Wes Anderson is kinda rubbing it in AsAm’s faces by casting both ScarJo AND Tilda.

— Izandra (@Izandra) April 25, 2017

Jesus. Isle of Dogs has both Scarlett Johansson AND Tilda Swinton? pic.twitter.com/QHTu9AJ4o5

— Anson Ling (@ns0n) April 25, 2017

???????? ???????? ???????? The target audience for Wes Anderson‘s new “Isle of Dogs” movie https://t.co/gCHIK2afX3

— Chin Lu 呂錦華 (@ChinHuaLu) April 25, 2017

kind of shocked they didn’t just leave tilda swinton and scarlett johansson in japanese pic.twitter.com/rZCPjqQVsn

— Chris Gayomali (@chrisgayomali) April 25, 2017

Related stories from TheWrap:

Scarlett Johansson Is ‘Lying’ About ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Whitewashing, Asian Group Says

Scarlett Johansson Defends Her ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Role, Says it Isn’t Whitewashing (Video)

More Hollywood Whitewashing: CBS Pilot Casts 2 White Actors in Lead Roles Written for Minorities

Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson are getting some heat for voicing characters in a new film, for which a Japanese-themed poster was revealed on Tuesday.

It’s not clear what animated characters Swinton and Johansson are voicing in Wes Anderson‘s upcoming stop-motion film, “Isle of Dogs,” yet Twitter is outraged that the actresses names are printed in English and Japanese kanji on the poster and are trolling them, once again.

Critics argue that this just adds fuel to the fire, given both of their recent movies were accused of whitewashing Asian roles.

“They really placed Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton in Isle of Dogs to reaffirm their Asian ethnicity? Hollywood killin Asians… STILL!” tweeted one user.

“Honorary Asians Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson grace us in Wes Anderson‘s Japan set ISLE OF DOGS ,” tweeted another.

Johansson received severe criticism for playing the cybernetic hero Motoko Kusanagi in the live-action remake of the classic anime, “Ghost in the Shell.”

Swinton was famously cast as “The Ancient One” opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange.” When the film’s trailer hit the web, some fans said casting Swinton was racist because the character was depicted in the comics as being Tibetan — and Swinton is a white British woman.

Set in Japan, “Isle of Dogs” follows a boy’s odyssey as he searches for his pet pooch. As of yet, it’s unclear who Swinton and Johansson even voice in the film. Of course, never mind that other cast members — such as Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston and Edward Norton — also feature in the poster in Japanese writing, although the actors are not Asian.

Representatives for Fox Searchlight, Swinton and Johansson have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

See some reaction tweets below:

Related stories from TheWrap:

Scarlett Johansson Is 'Lying' About 'Ghost in the Shell' Whitewashing, Asian Group Says

Scarlett Johansson Defends Her 'Ghost in the Shell' Role, Says it Isn't Whitewashing (Video)

More Hollywood Whitewashing: CBS Pilot Casts 2 White Actors in Lead Roles Written for Minorities

Will ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Be the Last Racially Insensitive Blockbuster? — Critics Survey

Between the phenomenal success of “Get Out” and the failure of “Ghost in the Shell,” might Hollywood finally wise up?

Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)

Between the phenomenal success of “Get Out,” the imminent next chapter of the emphatically diverse “Fast and the Furious” franchise, and the recent failure of “Ghost in the Shell,” (among other examples), is there genuine reason to hope that racially insensitive blockbusters might soon become a thing of the past?

Vadim Rizov (@vrizov), Filmmaker Magazine

I think a lot about Bilge Ebiri’s 2013 piece on how the “Fast & Furious” franchise blew up by self-consciously becoming “diverse.” The short takeaway: Universal execs didn’t throw together a super-diverse cast out of the goodness of their progressive hearts, but out of a keen awareness that targeting multipole, oft-underserved demographics was a key, underexploited pathway to making much more money. It’s long been reported that there’s a big gap between onscreen representation and the audiences showing up: Latinos are the biggest moviegoers in the US, which you wouldn’t guess from the number (or lack thereof) of prominently cast Latinos onscreen.

So the examples cited are, sure, apposite, but what we’re really talking about here are two examples of black filmmakers breaking through plus one self-consciously “inclusive” blockbuster — hardly a monster wave, and anyone with a memory of how the late ’80s wave of black filmmakers ground to a halt after a while should be wary that non-white filmmakers are now, finally, about to become an integral part of the Hollywood apparatus, with attendant changes in onscreen diversity to follow; all it takes is one flop for the machine to change its mind (which is admittedly very stupid). So I’m sadly wary that we’re on the way to a more inclusive onscreen future.

READ MORE: ‘Ghost In The Shell’ Anime Director Defends Scarlett Johansson’s Casting

Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse), Freelance for Vulture, Nylon, the Guardian

While it would certainly be nice if Hollywood got its shit together and stopped casting white people in nonwhite roles, and while I agree that there have been tiny incremental decreases in that practice year by year, I fear it’ll be a long time until it become a complete thing of the past. You trace a positive trend through “Get Out,” “Moonlight,” and “Fastly Furious 8: Fambly Matters,” but we could just as easily draw a less heartening conclusion from a glance at the next few months. By the end of June, we’ll have a film in which Guatemalan-born Oscar Isaac plays Armenian, something called “How to Be a Latin Lover” (gulp) from my beloved Ken Marino, and loads of all-white studio projects.

Things are definitely better now than they were as recently as 2014, but until people of color have been installed in key decisionmaking positions, I fear a meaningful step forward will be impossible.

The Fate of the Furious Fast 8 Vin Diesel

“The Fate of the Furious”

Screenshot/Universal

Manuela Lazic (@ManiLazic), Freelance for Little White Lies, The Film Stage

In our frequent tearful and angry comments against the big monster that is Hollywood, we critics often fail to recognise this industry’s undeniable complexity. Somewhat simultaneously, progress seems always on the cusp of realisation, while signs of Hollywood’s backward ideas about race and identity continue to surface in countless new films, especially blockbusters. In theatres this weekend, a brave spectator — or one into cognitive dissonance — can have herself a double-bill of the ground-breaking “Get Out” and the whitewashed “Ghost in the Shell” remake. Hollywood is a messy place.

Nevertheless, “Moonlight”’s exhilarating critical triumph (with a gobsmacking twist ending on Oscars night) and “Get Out”’s massive commercial success recently may make “Ghost in the Shell” seem like an anomaly, a last misjudged attempt by Hollywood to pursue its long-held tradition of reappropriation and flattening out of racial difference in favour of the majority. It almost feels like real change is taking place, which can explain the vigorousness of the outcry against “Ghost.” Yet while evidently justified, this violent dismissal also risks making us forget about the similar and in fact not so distant scandal of “Doctor Strange,” which followed many others. Despite all the anger that these previous films generated, such attitudes evidently persist.

Hollywood nonetheless always tries to give its audience what it wants, if only because this strategy makes economical sense. And this explains the very existence of a “Ghost in the Shell” remake: the original regained popularity in recent years by becoming more available to Occidental spectators and thanks to the surge of interest in anime. But as the casting of Scarlett Johansson blatantly reveals, Hollywood is a clumsy pleaser. It is willing to tap into different stories, but cannot fully commit to their specificity. In some cases, as with the casting of Tilda Swinton as “the Ancient One” in “Doctor Strange,” traces of Orientalism even emerge, where Asian cultures are not only populated with white people, but also made to look inaccessible, exotic, magical and even dangerous.

Perhaps the solution to Hollywood’s racial problem lies in this very desire to please: critics, and social media users in general, might have the power to guide the big studios on their tedious path to sensitive representation. Through trial and error — that is, unsatisfying attempts at diversity in films, then virulent attacks by spectators in the press and the media- the industry might eventually understand what is so wrong about itself, and finally deliver consistently racially conscious movies. Until then, we shall stay mad.

Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) Pajiba/Nerdist/CBR

Man, I wish. And not just because I’m an alleged and unrepentant SJW, but also because wouldn’t it be amazing if films as original, challenging, and riveting as “Moonlight” and “Get Out” became the standard and not the exception?

Personally, I’m hopeful that the success of these films — as well as the box office success of “Hidden Figures”— will prove to Hollywood once and for all that white-straight-male need not be the default setting for any given story. And I expect we’ll start to see a shift toward more Black actors getting lead roles, instead of the parade of blandsome white ingendudes of which Hollywood seems to have an endless supply. But I’m doubtful the success of these movies will impact Hollywood’s loathsome tradition of Asian erasure, as Asians and Asian-Americans are all too often left out of the race and representation conversation.

It all comes from Hollywood believing only white heroes (often white men) sell movies globally (which is bunk). Yet, this year alone we saw examples of Asian erasure in “The Great Wall,” “Iron Fist,” and “Ghost in the Shell.” While not all are clear examples of white washing, each is a story that relishes in an Asian culture, while centering on a White protagonist. And that reduces Asian people to set dressing, even within their own stories. What needs to happen for this kind to change is not only the failure of such properties, but also the success of ones that dare to recognize Asian and Asian-American stars as more than cameos that’ll help bolster overseas sales. We’ll know a sea change is actually happening there when Asian/Asian-American women can front a story that doesn’t involve martial arts, or when an Asian/Asian-American man can be cast as the lead in a romantic-comedy. Because — as Jack Choi pointed out last year — allowing an actor to be seen as a sex symbol is a crucial step in making him a star.

Here’s hoping someone soon will finally realize the untapped potential of the internet’s crush John Cho, or that some clever producer will run with the swoons Dev Patel has stirred from his surfer-bro “Lion” look. Because here is the rare case where objectification could actually help in representation.

Jordan Peele Get Out

“Get Out”

Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow), The New Yorker

The “Fast and Furious” franchise has a diverse cast; so do the most recent “Star Wars” entries, and so does “Captain America: Civil War”; and these films’ successes have hardly ushered in a new era in empathy and justice. Or, rather, unfortunately, not at all. Big-budget, mass-market films are effects, not causes. The commercial success of these movies with diverse casts and the failure of “Ghost in the Shell” may give studio executives the hint they need. On the other hand, “Life” was a failure, too (the capital letter matters). On the third hand, one of the things that makes “Get Out” a great movie is its depiction of racial identity as a matter of historical consciousness and personal experience.

Tentpole movies don’t offer much of either — for people of any ethnicity; the amount of human experience that filters into these films is pretty slender overall. That’s why the diversity of casts needs to be joined by diversity behind the camera — executives, producers, directors, screenwriters; otherwise, the diverse casts (though important in themselves, as opportunities for the actors) will have little effect on the films’ substance.

Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic), Nonfics, Film School Rejects

The sad thing is that “Ghost in the Shell”s disappointing box office may not be seen as the result of the casting controversy, and maybe it is not entirely. But we’ve seen so many movies that have had similar issues, including “Gods of Egypt” and “The Great Wall,” unable to financially back up the offenses in terms of being what audiences want, that it has to be getting to Hollywood. Unless they see the success of films like “Get Out” and “Fast and the Furious” being enough to counter the films deemed insensitive, like “Ghost in the Shell,” which is a box office failure, and Doctor Strange, which is not. And they may be doing well enough outside America where the controversies don’t alway carry over, that they don’t care. Maybe the only way to tell if anything was learned with “Ghost in the Shell” is to see what happens with “Akira.”

Tasha Robinson (@TashaRobinson), The Verge

I don’t think we’re ever likely to be entirely rid of tone-deaf adaptations, for the same reason we’ll never be rid of bloated blockbuster sequels or dumbed-down copycats of hit movies: at least half of Hollywood is always chasing what looks like the safest payday, by trying to plug “bankable” stars into everything, regardless of appropriateness or optics. What the success of films like “Get Out” and “Hidden Figures” gets us that I find heartening is a new set of profitable stars. There’s always going to be some clueless money-minded Hollywood exec pushing Tom Cruise or Matt Damon for the lead role in a President Obama biopic, because “Their films make money, and making money is what’s important.” But as actors like Michael B. Jordan, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, and Mahershala Ali gain more cachet as Hollywood moneymakers, we’re more likely to see their names come up in conversation. The success of films like “Get Out” and “Hidden Figures” — or, on another scale entirely, the admirably diversity-minded “Star Wars: Rogue One” — isn’t just a boon for people who want to see themselves reflected onscreen, and it isn’t just a boon for people who want to point to “diverse” films and say they make money and have an audience. It’s also a boon for producers and directors and casting agents who want to widen their net, and need to be able to point to past successes when they’re pitching future projects. The more “bankable” stars of color we have, the less likely we are to live in a world where Scarlett Johansson is seen as the only possible star for an action film about a tough woman, regardless of that woman’s race.

What is the best movie currently playing in theaters?

Most Popular Answer: “Personal Shopper”

Get the latest Box Office news! Sign up for our Box Office newsletter here.