After much controversy over casting Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One — in the comics, traditionally a Chinese character — “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson has spoken up about the decision, offering an apology of sorts for what many consider whitewashing.
Derrickson wrote on Twitter:
Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cInema.
I am listening and learning.
– Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) May 4, 2016
The response from Derrickson differs greatly from Marvel’s, which was more of a defence of the decision:
Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.
Hollywood icon George Takei spoke up about his disappointment over the casting — and co-screenwriter’s C. Robert Cargill’s reasoning — noting on his Facebook page: “So let me get this straight. You cast a white actress so you wouldn’t hurt sales…in Asia? This backpedaling is nearly as cringeworthy as the casting. Marvel must think we’re all idiots.”
Cargill’s original response to the criticism is the following:
[The Ancient One] originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullshit and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.’ If we decide to go the other way and cater to China in particular and have him be in Tibet… if you think it’s a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind and have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.
Directed by Derrickson, written by C. Robert Cargill and Jon Spaihts, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and others, “Doctor Strange” hits theaters on November 4, 2016.
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