These days diversity is slowly being recognized and accepted, especially when it comes to the big screen. When it comes to casting characters that previously existed in other media, it has become increasingly important to portray them in the proper light by casting an actor of the appropriate race.
An excellent example of this is 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Michael Bay. We recently shared our chat with Shredder actor Tohoru Masamune (Artificial, Inception), who gave us a lot of behind the scenes details of the villain's re-casting and how the director essentially made two different movies.
When asking the actor what characters he would like to bring to the big screen, he interestingly enough brought attention to another recently whitewashed character: the Ancient One. Now, there aren't many who would argue that Tilda Swinton's performance as the character in Doctor Strange and Avengers: Endgame was anything but exceptional, but many fans of the character, especially people of Asian descent, were a little disappointed in Marvel Studios' casting choice.
While it may be quite some time before we see a Doctor Strange reboot, the opportunity to include an Asian version of the Ancient One will soon present itself with the multiverse-centric sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. With multiple universes crashing into one another, who is to say the decision to include another version of the Ancient One is out of the realm of possibility?
It's important to remember that after the backlash surrounding Ben Kingsley's casting as The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, Marvel Studios course-corrected by folding the real Mandarin into Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The studio's decision to cast Tony Leung Chiu-wai as the villain has made him the first Hong Kong actor to be cast as a lead in a Marvel Studios film.
Regardless of your thoughts and take on Swinton's casting, it's an interesting subject to ponder. If you're interested in hearing the audio portion of our chat with Tohoru, click the podcast player below!
JVL: Being an obvious fan of comic books and comic book stories, are there any other stories that you'd like to be a part of or see brought to life on a big screen?
Literary Joe: There are a lot of Asians in Daredevil!
Tohoru Masamune: Right? Yeah, Daredevil is one of them. Yeah, Daredevil, I'd love to appear in that. There are definitely a lot in that. Doctor Strange, I was always a big fan of that. So I like that. That would be cool to do somehow; I guess in some remake, I could be the Ancient One. I could do that. Right? I got years ahead of me.
JVL: And you've got sorcerer hair right now.
Tohoru Masamune: (Laughs) And you know, there's a point where, I always joke about, I was talking to my manager, I was saying about my acting career is, this is why I feel pretty good. I feel like this, to me, it's like one big ride. The reason why I'm pretty calm as an actor is I know that I have, no matter what happens, I can always play that old Asian guy on the mountain, you know, the Ancient One? And I said, at some point, I'm going to just go for it. I'm just going to let my eyebrows go crazy, by the way. Trust me. I'm going to be the craziest looking old guy you have ever seen. People are going to line up to see that, and I'm just going to let it all go. (Laughs) I'm thinking, I know I have that waiting for me. That's like my, you know...
JVL: That's your retirement plan? (Laughs)
Tohoru Masamune: Yeah. (Laughs) That's my retirement plan. And I think that would be kinda cool. Huh? Being the Ancient One? I think I could do that. I think the timing might line up where, when they're going to do that again, and they'll remember, okay, we should probably use an old Asian dude. I think that's the right thing to do because that's what everybody wants.
Literary Joe: (Laughs) Yeah. That would be funny if that happened.
Tohoru Masamune: Yeah. I think the timing, and, you know, this is all recorded. Let's keep it right here. Right here. Let's hold on, don't lose this recording. Because we can play this like 20 years from now. (Laughs) You know when I'm sitting there, in my rocker on the Oscar carpet. Oh, I remember these guys! I don't remember which one was Joe and which one was Josh. I don't remember which, but anyway, we came up with this crazy idea! You know?
Literary Joe: One of them had hair. (Laughs)
Tohoru Masamune: That's interesting. I never thought of it that way, but the timing could work out. It could very well work out on that. (Laughs) Oh, my God. It's too funny.
Literary Joe: I'll toss up an article that you want to play the Ancient One, and we'll see what we can drum up there. (Laughs)
Tohoru Masamune: Oh, my God. It's too funny. Yeah. But you know, I'm an actor. I'm just living. I just love doing the next role. So that's awesome.
*This interview has been edited for clarity, and is co-hosted by Joshua Vargas-Lloyd, credited as JVL.*
What do you make of Tohoru's comments? If you're interested in checking out our last conversation with the actor, you can do so below. Also, be sure to check out the trailer for Masamune's current series, Artificial: Remote Intelligence, below.
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