“Doctor Strange” will see a number of new characters join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo. The film will also introduce the mystical master the Ancient One, a character played by Tilda Swinton. The character has been at the center of some controversy, however, as the Ancient One is depicted as Tibetan in the comics. Criticisms that the film whitewashes the Ancient One have been made, only growing after the release of the first trailer.
During a press event following a screening of her film “A Bigger Splash” in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, Swinton directly addressed the claims of whitewashing.
“Well, it’s not actually an Asian character — that’s what I need to tell you about it,” Swinton told The Hollywood Reporter. “I wasn’t asked to play an Asian character, you can be very well assured of that.” THR then notes that she smiled and added, “You just have to wait and see, because it’s not an Asian character.”
UPI also spoke with Swinton about her character, and the actress asserted that the version of the Ancient One that she was presented with and portrays was never Asian.
“The script that I was presented with did not feature an Asian man for me to play, so that was never a question when I was being asked to do it,” said Swinton. “All will be revealed when you see the film, I think. There are very great reasons for us to feel very settled and confident with the decisions that were made.”
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige previously spoke about Swinton’s casting and the decision to take the Ancient One in a different direction, saying that the Ancient One’s early comic appearances were “stereotypical” and “don’t hold up to what would work today.” He added that in the movie, “‘the Ancient One’ is a title that many people have had. We hit very early on on, What if the Ancient One was a woman? What if the title had been passed and the current Ancient One is a woman? Oh, that’s an interesting idea. [Clicks fingers.] Tilda Swinton! Whoa! And it just hit.”
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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