Netflix is under fire yet again for a casting decision after the streaming service released a trailer Thursday for its new film “The Outsider.”
The film is centered on the Yakuza, or the organized crime groups that work in the shadows in Japan. While the story takes place in Japan, Jared Leto, who is white, was cast as the lead.
Asian-Americans, who’ve long struggled with the lack of representation on-screen, weren’t happy with what they saw.
In the film, Leto plays an American soldier, Nick Lowell, who finds himself indebted to the Yakuza after World War II and serves the organization to earn his freedom.
Many criticized Netflix for casting a white man as the lead in a film filled with Japanese people and cultural elements, and questioned why a story about the Yakuza couldn’t feature an Asian lead. Others mentioned how the film speaks to the way Asians are cast as background characters but cannot be seen in Hollywood as strong leads.
Netflix did not respond to a request for comment about “The Outsider.” In recent years, the streaming service has been at the center of several casting controversies involving the erasure of Asian-Americans. Back in March, the company found itself in hot water for casting white actor Finn Jones for the lead role of Danny Rand in “Iron Fist.”
Lewis Tan, who ended up playing Zhou Cheng in “Iron Fist,” was passed over for lead, though he is of Asian descent. Tan appeared in just one episode of the series. His performance drew praise, with many referring to the actor as the best part of the series.
Just a few months after “Iron Fist” series premiered, Netflix released its adaptation of the Japanese manga “Death Note” with a predominantly white cast. The casting choice prompted more viewers to call the company out for whitewashing.