“You're a talented actor; why would you take away a role from an Asian colleague?” one user responded after Skrein announced he was joining the film on Twitter.
On Monday, the Deadpoolhunk took to Twitter once again, admitting that when he took the role he was unaware the character was of mixed Asian heritage and that he had decided to “do what I feel is right,” and step down from the role.
"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 voice in the Arts,” Skrein wrote. “I feel it is important to honour and respect that. [Therefore] I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.”
"Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family,” he continued. “It is our responsibility to make more decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity. It is my hope that one day these discussions will become less necessary and that we can help make equal representation in the Arts a reality."
Skrein concluded that he was “sad” to leave Hellboy, but hoped his decision would help bring the entertainment world a step closer to such equality.
Following the news, Lionsgate released a statement supporting Skrein’s decision and assuring concerned fans that they will be more mindful when recasting the role.
"Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this,” the studio said in a statement. “We fully support his unselfish decision. 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."
See another screen star, Meghan Markle, talk about ethnicity in Hollywood in the video below.