Hellboy Producer Explains The Whitewashing Controversy

Daniel Dae Kim In Hellboy

It's no secret that superhero movies are everywhere. Comic book adaptations have proven to be most profitable and wildly popular genre in the business, so plenty of studios are trying to get in on the action. This includes reboots, as nostalgia continues to be a driving force in the film world. Lionsgate is doing just that with the upcoming Hellboy movie, which will be totally disconnected to the original pair of Guillermo del Toro movies.

Hellboy has some anticipation leading up to its release, but the film's development wasn't without controversy. When the cast was being assembled, actor Ed Skrein was cast as Major Ben Daimio, who is Japanese in the comics. This sparked a ton of backlash, with Lost favorite Daniel Dae Kim eventually stepping in to play the role instead. Now producer Lloyd Levin recently spoke of the decision to recast, saying:

When we started talking about this and we started talking about Daimio, it was years ago and we had already established a story where Daimio was…You know, the story takes place in the U.K. so we were creating Daimio as giving him an English background and we lost track of who he was in the comic books and we made a mistake… Ed was very very gracious and it was something we all felt we wanted to correct.

Nobody's perfect, and it looks like the folks behind the Hellboy reboot recognized their mistake. They may have originally been a cast of whitewashing, but the blockbuster course corrected, and brought in a more appropriate actor to play Major Ben Daimio.

Lloyd Levin's comments to Collider show how quickly things changed when Hellboy's cast was being assembled. While the blockbuster's story was ready and the character Ben Daimio was given his own narrative, they forgot a major detail: his race. The call for inclusion onscreen has been a major conversation in the entertainment industry for the past few years. It's this new awareness (and some fan backlash) that helped Levin and his colleagues realize their mistake. Enter Daniel Dae Kim.

Whitewashing has been one aspect of the larger conversation regarding representation in the media. It's an issue that seems to have his Asian actors the worst, a subject that was broached during Sandra Oh's Golden Globes opening monologue. Scarlett Johansson got a ton of hate for taking the lead in Ghost in the Shell, while Tilda Swinton faced backlash for playing The Ancient One in Doctor Strange. So when it looked like Hellboy was going to follow suit, the public quickly took to social media to express their outrage.

It should be interesting to see how Ben Daimio functions within the story of Hellboy, as it's the first time the character will be brought to live-action. All will be revealed when Hellboy arrives in theaters on April 12, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.