10 Dubious Casting Decisions by Hollywood When It Came to Race
When making a Hollywood blockbuster, you always want a big name to be the star of your film but sometimes, when casting a specific role, Hollywood can completely get it wrong when it comes to the race of certain characters and portrayals in pursuit of such a star. Here are 10 of the most controversial casting choices.
1. Scarlett Johansson - Ghost in the Shell
The extremely popular manga series written by Masamune Shirow is an emphatically Japanese story that focuses on cybernetics and the human, a.i. relationship. It was then made into several anime pictures and t.v. shows before being picked up for the Hollywood blockbuster treatment.
In all its previous iterations, the main character Major Motoko Kusanagi has been Japanese and so when the American born actress with Danish and Polish roots was cast it caused consternation in many corners of the globe. Although the film is yet to be released, it is already stoking controversy.
2. Johnny Depp - The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger started out as a radio show western that eventually moved to television. When Disney picked up the rights to make a film, Johnny Depp was cast as the Lone Ranger's Native American friend Tonto. When asked about the controversy of a white man being cast in the role Depp said:
“I guess I have some Native American (in me) somewhere down the line." Hmm, hardly convincing is it Johnny?
3. Jake Gyllenhaal - Prince of Persia
Based off of the video game of the same name, the film plot centers around a dethroned royal who has the ability to turn back time in short bursts.
However, as the title suggests, the eponymous central character is supposed to be of Middle-Eastern descent so eyebrows were raised when half Jewish, quarter Swedish Jake Gyllenhaal was cast.
4. Rooney Mara - Pan
Peter Pan was never the most racially sensitive book when it came to portraying Native Americans but it was a product of its age.
You'd have hoped that by 2015 attitudes would have changed but when American born Rooney Mara, who has Italian Irish, German, and French-Canadian ancestry, was cast in a film adaptation of the classic novel, many saw this as a sign that things had not changed enough.
5. Christian Bale - Exodus: Gods and Kings
When acclaimed film director Ridley Scott was putting together his Biblical epic set in Egypt he really riled people up with his comments about never casting 'Mohammed so-and-so from such-and-such a country'.
He went on to have an entirely white cast with, Welsh actor, Christian Bale playing Jewish Moses and Australian Joel Edgerton playing the Egyptian Pharoh Rameses II.
6. Jim Caveziel - The Passion of The Christ
The Passion of The Christ was a controversial film all round but one of the reasons for this was the casting of Caucasian American actor Jim Caveziel in the role of Jesus Christ.
7. Micky Rooney - Breakfast At Tiffany's
The portrayal of Holly Golightly's Japanese neighbor IY Yunoishi fell to American actor Micky Rooney in the 1961 film and he rolled through a series of horrendous stereotypes when in character.
Hollywood has come some way since then but, as is evidenced by others on this list, a lot is still to be done.
8. Ben Affleck - Argo
Ben Affleck won an Oscar for his film Argo in which he produced, directed and starred in but when he cast himself, a white American actor with English, Irish, Scottish and Swiss ancestry, as a Mexican CIA operative, it did not go down well in parts of Latin America.
9. Jennifer Connelly - A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind was an Oscar-winning film based on real people and real events.
Alicia Lopez-Harrison de Lardé was a naturalized US citizen from El Salvador so the choice of an actress of Jewish, Irish and Norwegian descent was not a natural one, although Jennifer Connelly did go on to win an Oscar for her role.
10. Zang Ziyi - Memoirs of A Geisha
The casting of Chinese actress Zang Ziyi in a film about Japanese culture was always going to stir up trouble.
Hollywood's perceived attitude was that all Asians are the same and this wasn't helped by the fact that the two countries haven't been on very friendly terms, politically speaking, for a long, long time.