Ed Skrein is by no means a Hollywood A-Lister. He is a rising star who garnered attention for his quick stint in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and then as a villain in “Deadpool.” He’s just getting his career on track, but he was the one brave enough to back out of a role that would have been his big break – because he understood that accepting a “white-washed” role takes away the opportunity for a deserving Asian actor.

White-washed Hollywood

Less than a week after Skrein joined “Hellboy” as Major Ben Daimio, the actor opted to leave the project due to his character being half-Japanese in the comics.

Upon seeing the online ire that his casting drew, he released a statement via Twitter, where he emphasized the importance of inclusivity.

This decision caught the show business world by surprise, but Skrein drew a lot of praise from his fellow actors. Among those who publicly lauded his move is “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” actress Chloe Bennet, who called Hollywood “racist,” adding that it has “continuous insensitivity” and a “flippant behavior” towards Asian actors.

When asked about calling Hollywood racist while she changed her own Chinese last name, the actress dragged her critics by saying that she didn't change her name to hide her Chinese blood. She also added that she has been doing what she can to address racism in show business: this summer, she founded a nonprofit organization called “Represent Us Now” (RUN).

Its aim is for boosting Asian-American and Pacific Islander representation.

A new era?

Whitewashing has been happening in Hollywood for decades, in as early as the classic Audrey Hepburn film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” where Mickey Rooney depicted an Asian man clad in Asian stereotypes. More recently, Emma Stone played a character with Hawaiian and Chinese descent in a 2015 film, “Aloha”; Tilda Swinton played a traditionally Asian character for 2016 film “Doctor Strange”; Scarlett Johansson played the lead in this year’s adaptation of a Japanese anime classic “Ghost in a Shell.” Even actors Nat Wolff and Willem Dafoe gained some ire in their adaptation of Japanese manga, “Death Note.”

Skrein’s statement, which explained his decision to leave, leaves little room for actors to claim ignorance regarding Hollywood whitewashing.

This also extends to studios, which could now lose fans for misappropriating culture in favor of Hollywood stars who can bring more money to the box office. Whether or not this is the beginning of a new, more sensitive Hollywood remains to be seen, but Skrein already made an impact for “Hellboy” producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin. In a joint statement, they indicated their support for Skrein’s decision, adding that they are committing to finding an Asian actor tackle the role of Major Ben Daimio.