Hollywood star Tilda Swinton is addressing her contentious casting as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange.
While in conversation with Variety, the actor opened up about the whitewashing accusations she faced over the role in the Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer.
“I remember at the time having a question mark in my own mind, and being attendant to the public response to the idea that a Scottish woman will be playing this character, and being aware that there was no resistance at all — there was widespread welcome — which shifted at a certain point, for very good reasons with which I had an enormous amount of sympathy,” she said.
Back when the controversy started, Swinton had escalated the entire fiasco by reaching out to comedian Margaret Cho and asking her why her casting as the Ancient One offended so many people. This irked the comedian even more who told fellow comic in a podcast that Swinton “wanted to get my take on why all the Asian people were so mad…and it was so weird.”
The actor then made public her exchange with Cho where the latter explained that Asian and Asian American stories “are told by white actors over and over again and we feel at a loss to know how to cope with it.”
Swinton told Cho that “diversity is pretty much my comfort zone” and “idea of being caught on the wrong side of this debate is a bit of a nightmare to me.”
According to Variety: “Cho later said, however, that the interaction made her feel like a ‘house Asian’ because she had been asked to explain ‘whitewashing’ on behalf of all Asian Americans to someone she had never met — a request that, however well-intentioned, highlighted Swinton’s white privilege and fragility.”
Talking about the Cho controversy, Swinton told the outlet: “I feel like we’re at the point now, where I can say it doesn’t matter anymore, and it was all worth it. I think it was a hot spot [and] I was aware at the time of being caught in something that [was out of] my actual control. And that felt fine, because it wasn’t my voice that anybody needed to hear.”
“I made a questionable decision to reach out to somebody in a certain way, which was naïve and clearly confusing, because their misunderstanding came about because of it. I was embarrassed that I had maybe gone up a blind alley in starting the correspondence in the first place — maybe I had confused matters — but beyond that, I have zero regrets,” she added.