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Daniel Dae Kim Is in ‘Hellboy’ as Hollywood Tries Casting an Asian Actor to Play an Asian Character for a Change

You might remember that a few weeks ago, Ed Skrein very publicly left the upcoming Hellboy reboot when he found out that the role he had been cast in was that of an Asian character. I would have thought that character being named Ben Daimio would have given it away, but Ed didn’t pick up on it until the Internet was already Very Mad about the whole thing. Even so, Ed did the right thing in the end, so I’m not going to give him too hard a time. Which works out well, because like everyone else in the world, I’m not sure who Ed Skrein actually is.

Variety is reporting that, in a bold new strategy for a Hollywood film, the Hellboy reboot has cast an Asian-American actor to play an Asian-American character. Daniel Dae Kim, who recently left his role as Chin Ho Kelly on Hawaii Five-0, will be playing Ben Daimio. Kim is Korean and the character he’s playing is Japanese, and I honestly don’t know if that is going to be an issue for people, but he’s a hell of a lot closer than Daniel Day-Lewis, so it’s something, right?

I’m now obligated by the law of the Internet to talk about race and Hollywood casting for at least a paragraph here, so buckle up. Asians kind of get the short end of the stick when it comes to film rules, which is strange because Asians watch more movies than any other racial demographic group, per capita. Of course, there’s a relatively small Asian population in the United States. Asians are roughly 4% of the US population and have roughly 5% of the speaking roles in television and cinema. On the other hand, Hollywood is desperately trying to break into the Chinese market, which represents a billion potential customers, most of whom are Asians. The rest are white dudes with an Asian fetish there to try and find a wife, so Asian actresses would probably appeal to them, too.

That said, there are a lot of talented Asian-American actors who often have trouble finding roles and are underpaid compared to their white co-stars, a fact that contributed to Kim and co-star Grace Park leaving Hawaii Five0. But if Dane Cook can have 43 acting credits, I think we can find a few more vehicles for Asian actors.

It’s also pretty easy to say Asians are slightly over-represented in film compared to the general population so what’s the problem, but have you seen the way white people lose their shit when a black actor is cast to play a white character? Just look at the backlash against Hamilton. People got so mad that a Broadway show about dead white guys had a primarily black and Latino cast that they completely missed that Lin-Manuel Miranda was charging almost $1000 a seat for what is essentially The Capital Steps, a comedy troupe you can hear on NPR every holiday weekend but don’t, because why the hell would you?

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