Black actors in period roles

Continuing the discussion from What I'm watching:

Interesting discussion sparked off by Guy. Should we care if black actors play parts in period dramas? Does it matter (aside from roles like Othello where the characters origins are obviously defining). Recently, a woman played Othello.

Is it any different to a white, blonde haired actor playing a historical part where we know for sure the person in question had black hair?


In some cases it is great where an actor has an interesting likeness to the character played in both physical and other terms - so Stephen Fry playing Oscar Wilde was quite wonderful. But generally it doesn’t matter what they look like.

I’m going to see the Harry Potter play next year, apparently Hermione is played by a black actor. JK Rowling has since said that she always saw her as black. Shame that didn’t come out in the film, as she had a lot of influence over the casting.

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Didn’t a white, western actor recently step away from a part in a super-hero film because the character, as intended, was supposed to be Asian?

Where there’s some defining context for ethnicity in the role, I don’t have a problem with it.

For example, if all the casting for the roles in Django Unchained were reversed then it would be ludicrous. All of the historical context, albeit for a fictional film, would be destroyed.

This is an interesting piece although it doesn’t suggest that at any point pre Windrush that the numbers would have been that large.

I’ve read about this chap before. Interesting and amazing life.

If I’m not mistaken the black lawyer in Taboo was based on him.

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There was some moanings about the casting in Ghost in the Shell fairly recently.

Ed Skrein