There’s been many arms raised about the casting of Tilda Swinton, as the Ancient One in Marvel’s Doctor Strange. People aren’t happy that a Caucasian woman has been cast, with many saying it’s another example of 'whitewashing' in Hollywood.
One of the film’s screen writers, Christopher Robert Cargill recently did an interview on YouTube channel, Double Toasted and spoke about the choice behind Swinton after a fan asked him what his argument was for the casting decision.
“It all comes down to which way you’re willing to lose,” the screenwriter tells the YouTube channel.
The 40-year-old says that the character is a "landmine" that is absolutely "unwinnable". He explains that the Ancient One was a racist stereotype, who comes from a region that is in a very politically sensitive place.
“He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he is Tibetan you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullsh*t and risk the Chinese government going, ‘hey, you know one of the biggest film watching countries in the world – we’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political,” he tells Double Toasted.
Cargill goes on to express his anger over people who have asked why they didn’t cast Chinese star Michelle Yeoh in the role. Cargill admits he'd love to work with her, but casting a Chinese person to play a Tibetan character is not an option.
You can watch the full interview here:
In their writing, Cargill says that the team could have pretended that the Ancient One didn’t exist and completely eradicate him from the plot, but that would have meant removing one of the main characters to avoid dealing with race.
He says the decision to cast a woman in a male role was made before he came on board, but also points out that there hasn’t been a lot of talk about that choice.
“Everybody kind of pats us on the back for that and then decides to scald us for her not being Tibetan,” he says on the show. “We knew the social justice warriors would be angry with us either way.”
At the end of his passionate argument Cargill says that the movie is incredibly diverse.
“We made one of the most multicultural films that people have seen in years,” he tells Double Toast.
After a lot of media attention, Cargill clarified on Twitter that his answers during the interview were his own; he wasn’t speaking on behalf of Marvel.
And one more for clarification