How casting across racial lines exposes Hollywood’s power imbalance

As Mary Queen of Scots and Hellboy have shown, colourblind casting and whitewashing are part of the same, complex argument

When is it Ok to cast across racial lines? This is one of the movie questions of our time, and it’s complicated. Let’s take two recent, apparently contradictory examples. Case one: Mary Queen of Scots, which included Gemma Chan – a British actor of Chinese descent – as Bess of Hardwick, a real-life, very-much-white ally of Elizabeth I. For some, Chan’s casting was “historically inaccurate”. Case two: the forthcoming Hellboy reboot, which made headlines last year when Ed Skrein was cast as Ben Daimio, a Japanese-American character. In response to the angry reaction, Skrein withdrew from the role, and was replaced by Korean actor Daniel Dae Kim.

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