Daniel Craig cast as the protaganist in a movie about the LA Riots: ugh?

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For months now, Daniel Craig has been quietly booking roles here in America. Many have read the tea leaves and determined that Daniel is signaling that he’s done with James Bond and that he wants to build his America-based career post-Bond. While some of his future projects look interesting, Craig has just signed on to a film which I think is a mistake. I understand why he said yes – the people involved are prestigious and award-winning – but one glance through the story should have been enough. You see, Daniel was just hired to play one of the few white guys – a “loner” – in South Central LA in 1992. During the LA Riots following the not-guilty verdicts for the cops who beat Rodney King. As in, someone is making a movie about the LA Riots and it’s going to star a white Englishman. You honestly can’t make this stuff up.

Daniel Craig is in talks to star opposite Halle Berry in Mustang director Deniz Gamze Erguven’s anticipated English-language debut pic Kings. The project is set against a backdrop of rising tensions in Los Angeles during the Rodney King trial in 1992. Craig will play Ollie, a loner who lives in South Central — one of its only white residents — who befriends and falls in love with Berry’s character, a tough, protective mother who looks after a group of kids. When the riots explode in the city, Craig’s character helps Berry try and track down the kids from the worst of the violence. Kings will have the same mix of lightness and tough emotion that made Mustang such a standout.

Vincent Maraval’s Insiders is putting the film together and selling it with CAA handling domestic. Charles Gillibert, who produced Mustang, is lead producing. The riots spread across L.A. and lasted six days, leading to 55 deaths in the wake of the acquittal of the policemen who beat King. The footage of that beating was infamously captured on home video and would become a symbol of police brutality.

This has been Erguven’s dream project ever since graduating from the prestigious French Fémis film school. She first presented it to the Cannes L’Atélier co-production market in 2011 before deciding to make Mustang her directorial debut.

[From Deadline]

Let me be clear: if this was just a love story or romantic drama starring Daniel Craig and Halle Berry, I would be all over it. I bet they will have a lot of chemistry together, and I think they’ll just look sexy/beautiful together. The “love story” centering this story reminds me somewhat of Monster’s Ball, right? Still, casting Daniel Craig in a film about South Central LA during the LA Riots is just… wrong. It’s like casting Tilda Swinton as a “Celtic” mystic living in Tibet. It’s like casting Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese person. To paraphrase an old Chappelle Show joke, it would be like casting Tom Hiddleston in a film called The Last Black Man on Earth. But this just sounds like White Savior: LA Riots Edition.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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60 Responses to “Daniel Craig cast as the protaganist in a movie about the LA Riots: ugh?”

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  1. Lama says:

    No. No. No. No. No. NO.

    ETA: No.

    • Jane says:

      I’m adding an extra f*** no to yours just for add-on. I’m having a major WFT??? moment now.

    • INeedANap says:

      I love Mustang and want to support female directors, so I feel conflicted saying this, but…

      A Turkish-French woman is not the right person to make a film about the Black-American experience. I am sure she has a lot to say about oppression and brutality (hence her first film), but this story is not hers to tell.

      • Flowerchild says:

        Thier is no “right person” to make this horrific film. This is not a movie about the Black-American experience and as Scal said below this movie is about a (white englishman is saving the light skinned black woman and her kids from all the rioting angry black folks.)

      • Bridget says:

        Oppression is a theme that crosses national borders. The director being Turkish-French doesn’t necessarily mean that she would be unable to capture the larger conflict with the LA Riots. It just depends on your own personal viewpoint when it comes to how much you think artists need to have actually experienced the subjects of their own art.

        The Daniel Craig part though… perhaps not the best choice there.

      • sauvage says:

        @ Bridget: I am a white Middle-European and I consider myself to be open and empathetic. Yet I have absolutely no business interpreting Black History. Oppression is oppression, yes – but still, this is a very specific segment of oppression, and it concerns black people in the US, and black people in the US alone. You can only have the Black in the US Experience in your bones if you are African-American.

        As I wrote below, if this were a singular incident, nobody would care. But the reality is, there is a verrry long history of having black stories told through white eyes, and people are fed up with it. People are also fed up with the fact that apparently, you need a central white character in order to sell a film about a fundamentally black experience.

        All the empathy in the world is not going to equal the daily, sometimes subtle, sometimes less subtle, experience of racism. Which is why some stories need to be told by the people concerned. Also, in real life, there is no White Saviour. In real life, African-Americans are very much fending for themselves. And on top of that, AAs are supposed to accept their stories being told by people who have never walked in those shoes? No. Just no.

    • Alex says:

      Nope. Just nope.

    • Lindsey says:

      I’m sorry, maybe I’m missing something, but this is a white character, right? They hired a white man to play one of the only white characters…don’t understand the outrage.

      • Gatita says:

        Because the LA Riots took place when a black community that had been beaten, jailed and outright murdered for decades by the police finally exploded. This is a story that is screaming for a black protagonist. It’s so gross and offensive to tell this story not only from a white man’s POV but a non-American white man at that. Black history has been whitewashed enough.

      • Sarah says:

        He is an ACTOR. If it had to be the people who’d experienced whatever the film was about, it’d be a documentary.

        Actors research roles and inhabit a character. That is all. Some do a good job, some don’t. Phillip Seymour Hoffman once played a priest, Elijah Wood a fantasy creature, Samuel L Jackson a jedi, Natalie Portman a ballerina, Eric Bana a psychopathic criminal. They are actors playing roles.

        People love to whinge these days…

      • sauvage says:

        @ Sarah: I would agree with you, were there not such a long, long history of Telling Black History as Seen Through White Eyes.

        This is not a situation where for once, in a sea of films about the African-American experience as it is experienced by actual African-Americans, a singular film about the African-American experience is directed by someone Caucasian. African-Americans still have to fight for their right to tell their own story. And that is just plain wrong.

        It’s like with the outcry regarding Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone. Had this been an isolated incident of miscasting a light-skinned black woman to play a dark-skinned woman, and of a light-skinned woman therefore promoting the film afterwards, nobody would have batted an eye-lash. Since this is a systematic approach, to be witnessed over and over again, people were outraged.

  2. michelleb says:

    How could anyone, at any point in time, think that this was a good idea? JFC.

  3. Eleonor says:

    Like casting Di Caprio as a Persian Poet…NO.

  4. Amanda says:

    Kind of off topic, but Daniel Craig is fine AF. Had to be said.

    • Jenns says:

      Yes. He’s my #1 always.

      But, this casting. Ugh. It really does sound like Monster’s Ball 2.

      • KHLBHL says:

        I’d say it’s Monster’s Ball meets Crash. Crash being a well-intentioned but utterly oblivious white-male perspective of racial tensions that solved absolutely nothing and was undeserving of any awards or praise. Also, just a bad movie.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Oy.

  6. Mia4s says:

    Oh.

    When I heard about this I thought it was based on a true story; not necessarily the story that should be first choice to tell, but an interesting human interest story of real lives.

    It’s fiction?! You’re making up a story about the LA Riots and it’s this one??

    Oh good lord.

  7. Matador says:

    There was an article, on the Guardian I think, not long ago complaining about Americans ‘stealing’ British parts from Brits. It was comical. Casting a Brit to play an American is far more common and this is just yet the latest example. Not that I think it sounds like an outstanding role overall – in all likelihood, this is a drippy story set against the backdrop of riots – but I really don’t understand not giving this to any number of American actors. Outside of Bond, Craig isn’t that much of a draw.

    • Locke Lamora says:

      So is casting Brits and Americans to play all Europeans. Sometimes even with comical accents!

      While this is infuriating, it is pretty much standard Hollywood.
      I kinda get actors who are just starting out accepting these parts, because they need money and exposure. But Daniel has both. He has no excuse.

  8. Naya says:

    Did you think they were going to cast Idris Elba to rescue a black damsel and her black children? This is right on formula both race and genderwise. F*ck this man and his teapot shaped head, all the same,

    • michelleb says:

      Agreed. Sadly. It is par for the course.

      Also, without the white saviour story, if they had a love story like you described, it could have been compelling, you know? This is the LA Riots! How Hollywood remains so tone deaf, I just … don’t know. It is disheartening.

      • Naya says:

        IF they could avoid white savior and damsel in distress tropes it could be interesting. They could mine the racial tensions and discuss some real issues. It would need to be her story though. The audience would need to travel through her and not him. What are the odds that they’ll make it that way though.

      • michelleb says:

        The odds are not good, are they? Hollywood likes their white saviours and damsels too much.

        In the last few years, I’ve had a lot more faith in TV than in film. Amazon, or Netflix, or a cable channel would do a better job of highlighting the real issues and human interest aspect of the Riots, I think. There is so much story to tell with the Riots, they don’t need to add a fictional white man.

        So I cannot and will not watch this watered down white saviour version of the Riots.

      • Alex says:

        Odds are we will be getting some white savior BS. Which is SO tone deaf considering what the LA RIots represent.

      • KHLBHL says:

        @michelleb

        That actually sounds really good. Like a People Vs. OJ Simpson or Making a Murderer kind of miniseries from all different perspectives. Might actually go steps in the right direction in doing justice to what happened.

      • michelleb says:

        @KHLBHL, that is exactly what I would like to see. A miniseries has the breadth to utilise and cover different perspectives. It’s the perfect format – whether documentary or creative non-fiction. And, telling the stories of the people actually there. I hate it when any entertainment (Hollywood, TV, authors) insert fictional people into historical events when it is not necessary. The Riots only happened in 1992, we don’t have to resort to fictional people to represent voices lost to history.

    • Bobo says:

      Spot on, especially the teapot shaped head part lmao.

  9. razqy says:

    He looks like Gollum -LOR in the first picture.

  10. Rapunzel says:

    True story: I teach, and last semester, I was discussing the LA riots. Several of my students mistakenly thought it was a 1970s incident. Now, thanks to this, they’ll think Bond was the hero too. Epic fail.

    • KHLBHL says:

      Where do you teach? I think it depends on where you live. I haven’t lived in L.A. in a while, but I think if you’re from that area it’s kind of seared into the memories of long-time residents there.

    • Gatita says:

      The 20th anniversary of the riots was marked a couple of years ago and got huge play here in LA. One thing that was creative and well done was a news outlet “live tweeting” the events of the riot in real time on the anniversary date. What was amazing to me is how quickly everything went up in flames. The verdict was read and 20 minutes later cop cars were on fire in front of police headquarters.

  11. Scal says:

    Wait so the white englishman is going to save the light skinned black woman and her kids from all the rioting angry black folks? Because who else are they going to cast as the big evil group of rioters? That’s the basic premise of this story? And people are signing off on this and didn’t think of the optics? Not once? WTF?

    How many times does this crap have to happen? No one seems to care.

    • Brandy says:

      THANK and YOU.

    • Sisi says:

      yeah it sounds like a zombie apocalypse film, but instead of zombies there are ‘black savages’
      but of course if you bring it that way you are *gasp* a racist piece of sh*t.

      This movie should not have white people in major roles… except maybe some cops…

      • Flowerchild says:

        But why turn the LA riots into a love story?

      • Sisi says:

        @ flowerchild

        Honestly I don’t think there actually is a good answer for that question.

        to make the pandemonium just scenery?

        Titanic wasn’t about a boat, the boat was just the stage for a fake lovestory. Makes the death & horror more palatable if it’s just backgound noise.

        (still not a good answer)

  12. evie says:

    I won’t be going to see this one. I remember this time so vividly and being terrified as I watched first, Rodney King so horribly brutalized by the police and then, after the not guilty verdicts, seeing Reginald Denny pulled from his truck and viciously beaten within an inch of his life. It was a horrific time and I cannot imagine using it as a backdrop for this kind of movie. Tone deaf anyone?

  13. Luca76 says:

    It’s just more blatant racism from Hollywood. It reminds me of this Paul Mooney joke about The Last Samurai https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oE4XK2YZL9Y.

  14. Melody says:

    Nothing better to express the outrage of an oppressed people than a movie starring one of the oppressors.

    For similar reasons, the makers of Mr.Robot (TV remake of a unique story with a female protagonist “fixed” with a male protagonist) can kiss my ass.

  15. lucy2 says:

    “It’s like casting Tilda Swinton as a “Celtic” mystic living in Tibet. It’s like casting Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese person.” Disagree – those are casting white actors in non-white roles, taking away opportunity from non-white actors to work. This movie is casting a white guy as a white guy, so I don’t think it’s the same problem.

    HOWEVER – have a white character as the central, savior-esque character in a movie about the LA riots is a whole different problem altogether and sounds like a terrible idea. IMO it is not the right perspective to be showing this story from AT ALL.

    • FingerBinger says:

      +1 to the first part. It could be a good film it could be a mess. I’ll reserve judgement until I see it.

  16. Flowerchild says:

    What is sweet hell is this sh*t I mean seriously what is this 😱😨😰😵

    I know Halle is desperate for a job any job, but I didn’t think Daniel was this desperate. Who reads this script and thinks it’s a good idea and says yes, better yet who gave this the green light?

  17. Sam says:

    Maybe, MAYBE, I could see the point if this were a true story. Like if there was an actual white man who did this stuff, maybe I could see saying, “Well, it’s true and we’re just telling the true story.” But does anybody know if this is true? As far as I know, it’s not. It’s just a story that’s made up.

    And why? Why have to make up a white person to tell a story about the riots? There are plenty of real black people whose stories could be told, or real Asian shop owners who defended their property, etc. I don’t get why this even needs to be made, given that there seems to be no factual basis for it.

    • KiddVicious says:

      Exactly. I was just trying to post the exact same thing but my computer went haywire. There were so many families trying to get the hell out there, or trying to save their shops, that they could draw on true stories and make an excellent film.

  18. Marty says:

    This speaks to the sad state of the film industry when a movie like this can’t get made unless it has a white protagonist.

  19. KHLBHL says:

    I’d also like to say, as a Korean-American from the L.A. area, that these riots sparked a lot of racial tensions and conflict in Los Angeles. When a few bad people decided to commit crimes and loot opportunistically in the wake of legitimate need for protest, the police did nothing. First, the police beat and killed black men, and got acquitted, causing the entire situation. Then, when homes and businesses were being looted and burned down, entire livelihoods destroyed, the police stood by and protected Beverly Hills, letting South Central and Koreatown burn. Korean-Americans call that day “Sa-I-Gu.” 45% of all damages caused by the riots were inflicted upon Korean-owned stores or businesses. It left such a mark on the psyche of Korean-Americans, I think. A helplessness. We all know about it. My family and I weren’t there personally when this happened, but we moved to L.A. a few years later and we still felt the specter of those events. Korean-Americans were scapegoated by all sides, by whites and by other minorities, because they weren’t as powerful. The media wanted to turn this into a race war between minority groups to turn attention and blame elsewhere, not a struggle for justice among all minorities.

    In a way, I can sympathize as to why the owners felt they had to take things into their own hands, as the law and the system that was supposed to help and protect them, did nothing. But we could spend hours discussing that. This casting, this entire movie, is sickening. The fact that Hollywood (the industry, not the city itself) is so close in proximity to the actual events and yet chooses to romanticize and whitewash the tragedies, is horrifying. These movie executives and actors were in their ivory towers while people were out there getting killed, getting their entire livelihoods destroyed.

    We have not forgotten, not us minorities. We still feel fear, and anger, and frustration, because things like this still happen. They’re still happening. The same thing happened in Baltimore recently. Innocent men and women are killed. And what happens after is terrible too. I heard of a family who moved from L.A. to Baltimore after the riots destroyed their business, and then their business in Baltimore was destroyed some twenty years later due to the same thing – riots resulting from police misconduct. That just goes to show you that police brutality is entrenched, that racism is entrenched, that the system only works for the rich and powerful, and that innocent, hard-working people suffer the consequences. This movie….I can’t. I just can’t. F**k you, Hollywood.

    • hogtowngooner says:

      Thank you for bringing it up! I was really young when the riots happened so I didn’t understand the full context. It was only until years later that I watched a documentary about the riots that I heard about their role in the aftermath. It was really interesting and a watershed moment for the Korean-American community.

      Can’t they build a role and cast John Cho in it?!? :)

    • pinetree13 says:

      That was really well written.

      Also a movie about a Korean-American family during the riots would be WAY more interesting.

  20. Amberica says:

    I don’t think there should ever be a movie about this event. I lived through it. That said, it is extreme ignorance to call this event a “black experience”. My (white) mom had to drive through it. People tried to tip her car, but she was able to escape. She was a school nurse for a school that went up to 5th grade and was able to pick her STUDENTS out looting on TV. She still has PTSD if there’s fire in movies. There’s nothing about this that needs to be relived.

    • Annetommy says:

      That sounds a horrible experience. But I don’t think films can shy away from reflecting real life and death situations, whether it’s the holocaust, the Middle East, wars in Africa, Central American drug wars, the Troubles in Northern Ireland and many more. All of them produced tremendous suffering, but can’t be ringfenced as unsuitable for cinematic purposes.

  21. M.A.F. says:

    Why is anyone surprised by this casting? Why? Of course they were cast this way. Of course the movie was going to have the POV of a white guy. Heaven forbid they focus on the African-American community and LA police during this time frame.

    I remember the LA riots vividly as I am a born and raised So Cal girl. And I hope when this movie comes outs the media drags everyone involved.

  22. hogtowngooner says:

    Ugh I thought Straight Outta Compton showed that a “black movie” could be successful with white audiences?! Seriously, though, I’m as white as it gets and I would much rather see a film about the riots that was actually about the people who lived through it. I don’t need a “palatable white protagonist” to make me interested in this story or make me feel “safe” when watching it.

    This casting feels like it proves Jesse Williams’ point from the BET Awards: “Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit,”

  23. I Choose Me says:

    So pretty much business as usual eh Hollywood? Sigh.

  24. Meadow says:

    …….or like casting Micky Rooney as a cranky Japanese man, John Wayne as Genghis Khan, Keanu Reaves as Buddha……oh wait

  25. Vox says:

    I don’t think there’s an issue with casting a white englishman in the role of a white american. Americans play the role of other nationalities all the time.

    I think the issue is making a film about the LA Riots that focuses on a white protagonist saving people from black rioters instead of making a film about the black victims of that injustice that doesn’t cast them in an antagonistic role. You’d think any story about the riots would naturally have a black protagonist.

    I know that there is a perception of lighter skinned black people having a certain privilege and perceived attractiveness darker skinned people don’t, but doesn’t it kind of play into the ‘light vs dark’ issue to focus on a person being light skinned and say there’s an issue with them being light skinned? I completely understand the outrage when light skinned actors are cast as characters with darker skin (especially when it’s relevant to the story, such as with Nina Simone), but is that the case here?
    I really don’t know and I don’t mean to offend anyone with my ignorance. I know there’s a huge issue with lighter skin being portrayed as more acceptable and beautiful by some people within in the black community itself (and to be clear, I’m talking about people within the community, not how white people see things) and I’d like to understand the issue further.