‘Last Airbender’ TV series voice actor speaks out about film controversy
HollywoodNews.com: Dante Basco, the voice actor of Zuko (played by Dev Patel in M. Night Shyamalan’s film adaptation) in Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” television series, has spoken out about his decision to boycott the film on his blog.
Basco, who is Filipino-American, writes that he had expressed interest in playing Zuko–the Fire Nation prince whose character journey takes him from enemy to hero over the course of the series, but who is played essentially as the film’s villain–again in the movie adaptation, but that Shyamalan had a different vision for casting: one that controversially involved casting predominantly white characters in originally Asian roles.
He writes, “The fact of the matter is, in Hollywood…it’s not fair. It’s not fair at all, the tables are tipped unfavorably for ethnic actors…So…to boycott or not? I still feel a loyalty to the whole project, I helped to make it popular and I hope the film does justice to a near perfect animated series. Boycott is a strong word, but I do know that I won’t go see it opening weekend…I just don’t think it is at all viable for white actors to play ethnic roles… at least until they let us play white roles.”
“The Last Airbender”, which opened today, has been roundly slammed by critics and audiences alike, with Roger Ebert calling it “an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented.” The question of whether Hollywood casting white actors in ethnic roles is a product of institutionalized racism continues to be asked.
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