The Outsider: Netflix faces backlash, accusations of whitewashing over casting Jared Leto in yakuza thriller
Instead of hiring Jared Leto to play the lead, many felt the producers could easily have had an Asian or Asian-American star as the film's protagonist.
The trailer for Netflix’s new action thriller The Outsider, which was released on Thursday, is facing plenty of backlash and accusations of whitewashing over casting Jared Leto as a member of the yakuza.
The Oscar-winning actor plays Nick Lowell in The Outsider, an American prisoner of war held captive during the end of World War II. After a yakuza cellmate helps him escape, he must join their violent world in order to repay the debt in exchange for his freedom.
And the backlash was almost immediate as Twitterati were quick to express their unhappiness with making a Caucasian actor the star of a film set in Asia, calling it ‘figurative whitewashing.’ Instead of hiring Leto to play the lead, many felt the producers could easily have had an Asian or Asian-American star as the film's protagonist.
There is literal #Whitewashing (Dr. Strange, Ghost in the Shell) and figurative #Whitewashing when shows set in Asia center around a white actor (The Last Samurai, The Great Wall). If you don’t understand the subtleties, do not accuse me of idiocy.
— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) February 23, 2018
It's different because the film's creators created a white role for a white actor that appropriates another culture rather than, say, cast a white actor for an asian character? The transgression is all the same.
— CJ Melendez (@CJMelendez_) February 23, 2018
THE LAST YAKUZA STARRING JARED LETO (Seriously, how hard is it to hire an Asian-American actor for this type of shit? Still gets the outsider point across.) https://t.co/DFPavvzewd — M'Shaku (@ShakExcellence) February 23, 2018
Seriously!?! Another one of those movies where the Asian actors are props and the story--set in JAPAN--revolves around the ONE Hollywood actor?!?
— Abdul R. Siddiqui (@PakistaniPepper) February 23, 2018
This is, of course, not the first time there has been backlash about white actors taking on roles that could have been played by Asian actors: Scarlett Johannsson in Ghost in the Shell, Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange, Matt Damon in The Great Wall and, more recently, Natalie Portman in Annihilation have all faced similar criticism.
Directed by Danish filmmaker Martin Zandvliet, The Outsider also features Emile Hirsch, Tadanobu Asano, Rory Cochrane and Shiori Kutsuna alongside Leto.
The film will be available for streaming on Netflix from 9 March.
Watch the trailer below:
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