A lot of casting decisions have been met with controversy for all sorts of reasons. Quite often these days, you hear of roles being ‘whitewashed’, i.e. a white actor/actress is taking on the role of a character who isn’t actually white and should really be played by someone of a different ethnicity than Caucasian. Here are 7 Hollywood roles accused of being whitewashed.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
This move is a remake of a highly successful Japanese anime movie. As such, you would expect a Japanese actress to be cast in the leading role. However, casting directors ended up opting for Scarlett Johansson to play the film’s cyborg heroine, called Motoko Kusanagi in the original Japanese version.
2. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Film (2010)
You would think a movie about someone from Persia would have an appropriately cast lead, but it’s none other than caucasian Jake Gyllenhaal who was cast in the leading role.
3. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
In 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, Benedict Cumberbatch plays John Harrison/Khan, the movie’s leading adversary. Cumberbatch’s casting raised some eyebrows, especially the role had originally been played by a Mexican actor in earlier films in the franchise and the character himself was from northern India.
4. Aloha (2015)
In Aloha, caucasian Emma Stone was cast to play Allison Ng, a woman of one quarter Hawaiian descent and one quarter Chinese descent. Her casting didn’t go down well with critics, who accused the film of whitewashing and Emma herself later admitted to regretting being miscast in the film; she also said she acknowledged that whitewashing was indeed a problem in Hollywood
5. Doctor Strange (2016)
The decision to cast Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange raised a few eyebrows, especially since the character had always been portrayed as Asian man in the comics. Marvel’s President of Production even tried to defend the casting, explaining that ‘The Ancient One’ isn’t a person per se, but a title handed down and that Tilda’s character is simply the latest person to receive the title.
6. The Great Wall (2017)
One of the main criticisms of The Great Wall was that it seemingly perpetuated the ‘white saviour’ myth, where a white character comes along and saves a load of non-white people. That’s pretty much what Matt Damon’s character does in The Great Wall. The film was accused of whitewashing, since it’s all about Matt Damon’s character helping the Chinese army, but Matt insisted it wasn’t whitewashing since he didn’t take the job from a Chinese actor.
7. Noah (2014)
The biblical epic attracted a lot of criticism because of the fact that it featured an all-white cast. Russell Crowe played the titular character and because of his casting, the rest of the cast was made to be white so it wouldn’t look like non-whites were being punished. Lots of other biblical films, including The Passion of the Christ and Exodus: Gods and Kings, have also been accused of whitewashing.