Casting Ben Daimio
Recently, Ed Skrein graciously and nobly stepped down from his role as Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy movie.
The casting came under fire from Hellboy fans as Ben Daimio is of Japanese-American descent in the comics. Given the recent furore over the casting of such films as Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell, and Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange, Ed Skrein decided to buck the “worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories” (source: Ed Skrein’s Twitter) and step down from the role.
Now that the Producers, Lloyd Levin and Larry Gordon have announced their intent to “recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material” (source: Comicbook.com) there are listicles and thinkpieces that suggest potential replacements.
Great, you may think. But when the writers are referencing Asian actors who aren’t Japanese, or of Japanese descent, you begin to wonder whether representation is really that important, or whether they’re just using the high horse without really knowing which horse it is.
With that in mind, here’s a short list of actors of Japanese descent, to play the role of Ben Daimio.
Ian Anthony Dale
Ian Anthony Dale is a main cast member on CBS’s Hawaii 5–0 after Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park (both Asian actors) quit the show after pay inequality compared to their white co-stars.
Dale has a long history of Detective roles in TV since the early 2000’s. Given Ben Daimio’s military background, Dale seems like an ideal fit for the role.
Louis Ozawa Changchien
Louis Ozawa Changchien is an actor who has appeared in numerous Sci-fi and action films. Starring in Predators in 2010, and subsequently featuring in The Bourne Legacy, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Man in the High Castle and Netflix’s Spectral, Louis would be a welcome addition to the Hellboy cast.
Sho Kosugi is a Japanese martial artist, popular during the 80s as a ninja, who is passionate about both acting and the martial arts. Even at 69 years old, he’s still active, having made ‘The Art of Hollywood Ninja Action Film Making’ this year.
Peter Shinkoda is a prolific Canadian actor, having starred in I, Robot, 2014s Godzilla, the Power Rangers TV show, Supernatural, Stargate, Hawaii 5–0 and even Daredevil in 2015. No stranger to Sci-fi and fantasy then.
You’ve no doubt heard of Ken Watanabe before, or if not, recognise him.
He’s starred in Inception, The Last Samurai, Batman Begins, Godzilla and even Transformers. Watanabe is a strong choice for this role.
Hiroyuki Sanada was born in Tokyo and although he trained to be an action star, has established himself as more of a character actor.
Starring in films such as Sunshine, The Last Samurai, Rush Hour 3, Lost and The Wolverine, Sanada even performed with The Royal Shakespeare Company in 1999–2000.
There. We have 6 strong candidates for Ben Daimio, who are of Japanese descent and have solid track records when it comes to acting in TV and film. I’m not saying this list is be-all and end-all when it comes to the role, but it’s certainly a good starting place.
Your move, Lionsgate.