A new “Pan” film about the legendary Peter Pan characters is in the works, set for release in July 2015, with director Joe Wright at the helm (“The Soloist,” “Hanna”). Wright reportedly indicated that this new adaptation would be “very international and multiracial.”
The film’s team then went and cast a bunch of white people. Let’s take a look at this “multiracial, international” main cast:
- Tiger Lily played by… Rooney Mara (blue-eyed white American)
- Blackbeard played by… Hugh Jackman (blue-eyed white Australian)
- Mary played by… Amanda Seyfried (blue-eyed white American)
- Hook played by… Garrett Hedlund (blue-eyed white American)
So diverse it’s almost like a Benetton commercial. Except, not at all. Ok, but who’s playing Peter Pan? Surely they at least made that character diverse.
Oh, who are we kidding? They cast a, you guessed it, blue-eyed white American, newcomer Levi Miller. This delightfully snarky AV Club headline says it all: “Joe Wright’s ‘multiracial’ Peter Pan casts young white boy.”
The casting choice of Mara as Tiger Lily had already sent shock waves throughout the media last month. For instance, Film School Rejects’ Kate Erbland addressed the topic in a piece entitled: “If Joe Wright’s ‘Pan’ Wants to Be ‘Multi-Racial,’ Why Cast Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily?” Erbland points out not only the whitewashing of the Native-American Tiger Lily character but also the way some in the media, citing a The Wrap article, blissfully fail to see the contradiction:
“Wright is planning to create a world that very international and multi-racial, effectively challenging audiences’ preconceived notions of Neverland and reimagining the environment. “Rooney Mara is in negotiations to play Tiger Lily.”
Do these two statements seem at odds with each other? The Wrap reported both – in the same story! – yesterday, as part of a casting bit that passes along word that Mara is reportedly in negotiations to take on the role of Tiger Lily in one of the many Peter Pan “reimaginings” flying around Hollywood. Director Joe Wright has steadily been lining up other interested talents for his Pan, and while there is a touch of international appeal here (one of them is Australian!), it certainly seems out of touch and frankly incorrect to tout that a film that seems poised to star Mara, Hugh Jackman, and Garrett Hedlund is somehow “multi-racial.”
That was in March, even prior to Amanda Seyfried being cast in a chief role. Fast forward to this week, when Deadline announced the additional castings: Seyfried … and socialite/model Cara Delevingne (also a, say it with me now… blue-eyed white person!). As DListed.com’s Michael K describes it: “a white chick from Pennsylvania” and “a white chick from the UK.” He adds:
They join a really diverse and multi-racial cast that includes Hugh Jackman, a white dude from Australia, as Blackbeard, Levi Miller, a white kid from the US, as Peter Pan, Garrett Gimme Hedlund, a white dude from the US, as Hook, Rooney Mara, a white chick from the US, as Tiger Lily, Adeel Akhtar, a Pakistani dude from England, as Smee, Taejoo Na, a Korean dude from Korea, as Kwahu and Nonso Anozie, a Nigerian dude from England, as the Bishop.
So there are a few ethnic actors, sure. But, as the AV Club’s Caroline Siede points out, they are all relegated to supporting roles.
The main cast is, pardon the pun, “lily” white.
Much has been made of the fact that Wright billed his adaptation as “international and multiracial,” then proceeded to cast a bunch of white people. With Seyfried in what’s likely to be the last lead role, it’s now become clear that Wright was saving his commitment to diversity for those who won’t be billed above the title.
Perhaps the most shocking element of this offensive casting is the simple fact that, in this “international” cast, there is not a single Latino, even amongst the supporting cast members. Almost one in six individuals worldwide is Latino – in the Western Hemisphere, the number is over half. Yet an “international” flavored Peter Pan has zero Latinos? And no one finds this odd? There are dozens of extremely talented Latino actors in the business who would have fit perfectly into any of the roles – why did Peter Pan’s director and producers fail to incorporate any of them?
But many of us are no longer even surprised by Hollywood routinely ignoring Latinos. After all, this is the same industry that has gone so far as taking a real-life Latino character and whitewashing it into an Anglo character: e.g., A Beautiful Mind (2001), regarding renowned mathematician John Nash, not only cast a white actress, Jennifer Connelly, to play Nash’s wife, Alicia, who was from El Salvador, but even went as far, if memory serves, as to omit any reference to Alicia being Latina.
It’s high time Hollywood (a) began creating roles for Latinos and/or at least cast Latinos in roles open to any ethnicity, and (b) stopped ignoring the tremendous talents of Latino actors. While the industry is all too happy to accept Latino audiences’ money, it simultaneously insults the community by pretending it does not exist, come casting time.
Unless some changes are made to this cast, the upcoming “Pan” is one film Latinos should be sure to ignore. After all, if Hollywood will continue to ignore us, perhaps doing the same for some of its films is in order.
AJ Delgado writes about politics and pop culture. A Harvard Law School graduate, you can follow her on Twitter @MissADelgado.