Ed Skrein may have just become the internet's favourite actor of the moment. Twitter is abuzz with praise for the Camden native for stepping down from the Hellboy reboot after he found out that his character was originally Asian.
The former Deadpool baddie had only last week signed on to join the cast of the remake to take on the role of Major Ben Daimio. His casting led to criticism in Hollywood circles who pointed out that comic creator Mike Mignola had created Daimio as being of Asian heritage.
"I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage," Skrein wrote in a statement on 28 August. "There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement, and I must do what I feel is right.
"It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the Arts. I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore, I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately," the former Game Of Thrones actor added.
Being of mixed heritage himself, he understood the importance of casting, he said. The 34-year-old added that it was his hope that one day these discussions would become less necessary and that "we can help make equal representation in the Arts a reality".
The film's producers Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Millennium and Lionsgate also released a statement, describing the actor's descision as "unselfish".
"It was not our intent to be insensitive to issues of authenticity and ethnicity, and we will look to recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material," they added.
Skrein's decision generated widespread praise on social media, considering that this is the first time a recognised actor has stepped down from a role over whitewashing. Even Mignola, the creator of the Hellboy comics, posted his praise. "Thank you @edskrein very nicely done..." he wrote on Twitter.