Ed Skrein reflects on 'Hellboy' whitewashing controversy and 'leading by example'

·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment

With the studio tentpoles Deadpool and Alita: Battle Angel — as well as last year’s indie darling If Beale Street Could Talk, in which he played a corrupt cop — Ed Skrein has quickly become Hollywood’s go-to antagonist.

But he may have gotten the most ink for a role he didn’t play. In August 2017, the 35-year-old London native bowed out of the upcoming David Harbour-starring Hellboy reboot after complaints that his character, Major Ben Daimio, was being whitewashed. Daimio was Asian in the comics, and Skrein was ultimately replaced by Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hawaii Five-O).

At the Los Angeles press day for Alita, Skrein reflected on that decision, which followed similar whitewashing controversies involving Ghost in the Shell and Doctor Strange.

“I had the situation there, made the right decision, felt good about that decision, and moved on,” said Skrein, who first posted news of his exit on Twitter. “I’m of the idea of leading by example rather than shouting from the rooftops. I live by my word every day even when people can’t see it, even when I’m not tweeting out statements. Or even when it’s not profile. So it was just carry on the same.”

Skrein said he didn’t receive any type of blowback from the film’s distributor, Lionsgate. He did earn public acknowledgment, though, from his replacement Kim, who praised him in an Instagram post after the pair met in London.

“The studio, actually, [was] pretty amazing. They actually had been amazing before I found out [that the character was originally Asian]. And then they were gentle people afterwards. So no, it’s all love. It was just the right decision.”

Alita: Battle Angel opens Friday. Watch the trailer:

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