Again? ‘Ni’ihau’ Casts White Actor In Role As Hawaiian Hero

Tae Hong
May 09,2017
Ben Kanahele, left; Zach McGowan, right (Sue Lukenbaugh)Ben Kanahele, left; Zach McGowan, right (Sue Lukenbaugh)

Oh, come on, Hollywood.

Zach McGowan, a white actor, has been cast to lead Gabriel Robertson’s “Ni’ihau,” in a role based on a real-life Hawaiian island leader, Ben Kanahele, who saves a man who crash-lands on the island, according to Deadline.

He later discovers that the man is a Japanese pilot, who participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and ultimately kills the pilot.

The news comes in the midst of a nationwide conversation on Hollywood whitewashing of Asian Pacific roles, from Emma Stone in “Aloha” to Scarlett Johansson in the recently released “Ghost in the Shell,” which flopped in the box office in part due to its casting decision.

Robertson told Deadline that he was drawn to the story due to its “huge historical significance” and said it “plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy,” while Ken Petrie of 27 Ten Productions, who is also attached, said “there is a weight to be shouldered, and the material requires the utmost care and authenticity.”

As expected, online backlash has been swift:

Correction/Update: We stated in an earlier version of this article that the Ni’ihau incident was “a catalyst of Executive Order 9066,” citing Deadline’s description of the film. Read Joseph Shoji Lachman’s guest post on Angry Asian Man on the error of that statement.


Facebook Comments