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  • Shinji Ikari

    How did Robert Downey Jr. not make this list with his performance in “Tropic Thunder”? I think that should replace Benedict’s portrayal, because I don’t find anything wrong with switching the race of an actor in different adaptions.

    • Jason O

      I would have left out RDJ out of this list because his performance in Tropic Thunder was actually meant to be satirical and ridiculous whereas the ones actually on the list are meant to be serious dramatic roles that were tainted by the casting.

      • David

        Natalie Wood had changed her name from an ethnic Russian surname. She played a Puerto Rican on West Side Story. Not all Puerto Ricans are of color. That is a stereotype. Same with Italians. No all Italians are white.

      • Rosie

        RDJ was portraying a blond, blue-eyed Australian actor, who was playing an African-American Army sergeant. In fact, his character was in conflict with Brandon T. Jackson’s hip-hop character through most of the movie, because the latter was offended that RDJ’s character was cast as a black character in the first place.

    • ‘Charley Vic

      What about Liz Taylor playing Cleopatra. I think the best person for that part in that time era would have been Lena Horne.

      • elenmelb

        Cleopatra was Greek, so Lena Horne wouldn’t be appropriate.

        • Mark Kennedy

          There are some people who think Cleopatra was Black. This goes especially within the Black community.

          • EM

            oh wow some ppl who actually know that Cleaopatra was Greek not African!

          • Neth

            Some Afro-centrists also believe that Jesus and Ramses were black too. But Jesus was a Jew and Ramses were genetically Caucasian (based on features [Ramses], and DNA testing). But they’re going to believe what they want to believe.

            • CT

              There is no such thing as being “genetically caucasian.” Race is not biological. It is a sociopolitical construct.

            • John

              @Neth–Actually, Cleopatra was a mixed Greek product of the Ptolemaic dynasty and had African ancestry. I also find it funny how you’re so quick to mention ‘Afro-centrists,’ yet neglect to mention the ‘Euro-centrists’ both in and outside academia who have purported racist lies about Ancient Egypt for over a century, but to paraphrase what you said: “people are going to believe what they want to believe:”


            • randell

              Cleopatra was not of mixed Greek and African ancestry she was 100% greek. her Family the Ptolemaic dynasty were Xenophobes and did not take foreign concubines and if they did they would not have allowed a child of said sexual intercourse be considered legitimate also her family was big into incest. her parents were either siblings or cousins and as such she could not have been of african decent

        • Roger Lee

          Lena Horne was not an actress and would have been wooden and ridiculous in the role of Cleopatra.

      • RebeccaOlesen

        Cleopatra was from the Ptolemy Hellenistic Macedonian Greek royal family – by this alone she would have been a fair skinned white person. She was known to have golden blonde/reddish hair, blue eyes and very fair skin and complexion, which she took very good care of. People knew her, important people wrote about her – and those writings still exist today.

        The marble statue busts that Cesar had commissioned during her lifetime are completely, clearly Caucasian. But since that’s obviously not enough for the zealots – how about this. A recreation of a color portrait of Cleopatra VII located in 1818, proven to have been painted during her time, and so colors should have been accurate.

        Using laser, digital scanning techniques & chemical analysis, the original color composition is known & a recreation made:

        • Greenie

          Child, please, you could be describing Vanessa Williams or Tyra Banks, anyway we are not certain of her mother’s heritage or her paternal grandmother.

        • nope

          Stop making stuff up. First of all, Greeks were not a homogenous civilization so saying, “She was Greek, therefore she was white,” is a fallacy, not to even mention that ancient Greek were probably no more fair-skinned back then than they are today–which is not really fair-skinned at all. Applying race to the ancient world in such a way is heinously anachronistic. Second of all, there is literally no evidence anywhere supporting what you say about Cleopatra having fair skin and blonde hair. That is a bald-faced lie. No one knows what she looked like. Third of all, there is a lot of evidence that Cleopatra’s mother was Egyptian, so she was probably only half-Greek.

          • dm10003

            Why do people so obsessively conflate Egyptian with black African? The African continent isn’t enough of a reason. You wouldn’t confuse a Moroccan for a Tutsi in appearance. The African continent isn’t enough of a reason to see them all the same.

    • Kickboxer

      Actually, Robert Downey Junior’s character in Tropic Thunder doesn’t belong on this list for the reason that he was playing was meant to make fun of exactly what this post is about. He played a white actor who was playing an African American. One of the other characters clearly states that the only decent role for a colored guy in the film was taken by a white guy.

      If you’re complaining about his character (when he isn’t in a film) being Australian; many different actors from all over the world have played characters of different nationalities.

    • Neth

      Robert Downey Jr was playing a White actor from Australia who undergone chemical treatment on his skin to play as a Black man in a film.

    • Kendall

      In that movie he is a white guy that has a surgery to make him darker; in other words, it’s supposed to be a white actor.

      • justin

        yeah. RDJ is acting as an actor who is acting like he is disguised as another dude! love this frickin movie ! 😀

    • Douglas

      Then I should be able to bitch about Samuel L. Jackson portraying Nicholas Fury, who in decades of comics from Marvel (and I’m a longtime F.O.O.M.) is WHITE. Changing Fury to a black man (much like having Will Smith portray James West in the 1999 version of “Wild Wild West”) may appeal to current glamorization of “hip-hop” culture, but it’s an insult to longtime aficionados of the franchise. This is not to decry Mr. Jackson’s considerable talents as I’ve enjoyed so many of his works (even “Ultimate” Nick Fury).
      That’s why this rant is pointless. Designating roles as “belonging” to a particular race or ethnicity works both ways. Just like all that crybaby nonsense about white singers “stealing” the works of black artists. Like it or not, their COVERs ended up being more popular for various reasons. If it was racism, such was the times, not unlike cartoons depicting blacks in a manner which would be a complete embarrassment today. Be glad that it’s different now. I don’t hear of B.B. King or Fats Domino ever turning away a royalty check from those that covered their songs.

      • justin

        case in point the crows in dumbo or even the infamous Disney movie “Song of the South”

      • Juz moore

        Wait, so Black actors playing white roles, and doing it better is a ‘insult to the franchise’, but White artist who steal the works of Black artist, and doing it better, is acceptable in your terms? Don’t you see the hypocrisy going-on with your post?

        • Douglas

          None whatsoever, and though Samuel L Jackson has never turned in a bad performance, his version of Nick Fury was a pathetic joke (I blame the writers, even the greatest of actors can do only so much) in comparison with the comic character of “The Howling Commandos” and “Agent of SHIELD”. Same as Will Smith’s role as James West was not only in historical content an utter farce (unless you accept the premise in Sonnenfeld’s ’99 Steampunk version that the US Government would have hired a young black officer in a Secret Service role in 1866)…it may appeal to younger audiences with hip-hop tastes, but the suspension of disbelief is a tad much. This is not to decry the talents of Jackson or Smith, and either have done well in roles, I’ve observed, where race probably didn’t matter.
          And Juz, AFAIK, a cover is not “Stealing”…in practically every case, the black artist who likely made far more in royalty checks from covers than from his own credited works was likely grateful! There were many blacks who did quite well in spite of overt ‘racism’ (ever heard of Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Count Basie, Dorothy Dandrige?) Does Scott Joplin ring a bell? Take a break from your liberal spoil-sport rant and crack open a history book or two, or even better yet, tune into your local NPR station on the weekend…they have several jazz and blues programs that are always a treat.

          • Juz moore

            You’re not making any sense. Samuel Jackson played Nick Fury better than what I remember from the comics. He was one of my favorite actors in the Avengers, but that’s only a prospective rather than a fact, just like your prospective of him.
            Plus, you’ve completely ignored my overall statement.
            Why do you believe blacks should get the shorter-end of the stick compared to whites? What you just described is generally the same thing. White characters being ‘rebooted’ as black characters is bad, but black artist’s songs being ‘rebooted’ by white artist is ….good? I mean, I’m NOT saying either one is bad/good, but it’s seems you’re being a lot more bias towards anything with a black in it. You don’t need to be a Liberal to see the hypocrisy lol. I hope you feel the same way when a Black artist ‘steals’ the works of a white artist – I seriously doubt that since blacks have a bit more originality in music than whites – but who knows.

            • Douglas

              Ok, Juz – stick to the premise of the OP and then perhaps my assertions make sense. First, no, I don’t think that blacks should get the short end of the stick when it comes to casting movie roles, or in general in the entertainment industry. But your comparison of black actors portraying parts that their race makes suspension of disbelief difficult (there could not have been a negro Sgt. Fury leading an elite commando group like the First Attack Squad in 1944, PERIOD, it’s a sad fact of the role racism played in our military of the times) is off-base. Many white artists covered the works of blacks because they were OFFERED. That is called a normal business transaction, and the black artist more than like made far more money in royalties than he could performing it himself! It’s simply how the market worked, even though, as I pointed out, there was no shortage of blacks making it big in music (though that still didn’t get them the Penthouse at the Hilton no matter how much they made). That is NOT stealing! If you can’t comprehend the difference, there’s no point in further discussion.

              The OPer more or less objects to whites (ex: Johnny Depp, who although he claims some Native American ancestry certainly doesn’t evince it in his appearance, as Tonto) being cast into roles that he feels are “reserved” for non-whites. At least Mr. Depp could be made to resemble what most audiences would feel that Tonto should look like. Sure, the producer could cast a Native American (wonder if Chief Dan George from “The Outlaw Josey Wales had grandkids…), and likely would have gotten him cheaper as well as appeal to Native American activists…SO…go ask him why he’d spend the money on Mr. Depp, aside from star appeal. Besides you liberals always find something to whine about. If a Native American had been thus cast, you’d decry it as “typecasting”.

              I’d say judging from your posts that YOU feel things should be one-sided…ergo, go ahead and destroy the continuity of a franchise (like Marvel’s “Howling Commandos” and “Nick Fury, Agent of Shield”) for the sake of “selling-out” to younger tastes that think nothing is entertaining unless it has a hip-hop “flava”. Yet you equate some white artist of yore, like the King himself, Elvis, covering the works of B.B. King (who was probably crying all the way to the bank), under a legal and freely entered business transaction, as “theft”. Sir, your thinking is royally skewed. But if you enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, you’re not alone, I never said he didn’t entertain. I only said the casting is wrong, the talents of the actor notwithstanding. I didn’t consider the admission when I went to see “Wild Wild West” wasted, it was escapism run amok. I just didn’t consider the ’99 film an appropriate homage to the TV series, and I’m old enough to have at least snuck up out of the bedroom and see my parents watch it until they caught me out of bed!

              Besides, until our current President and his ilk attempt to dictate our cultural tastes, we all have the discretion of our entertainment dollar. Sometimes that’s what forgotten…free enterprise is the best cure for most, if not all, social ills.

    • Roger Lee

      I think it is more of a problem that mixed-race people so often play the part of white people. Natalie Wood, Elvis Presley, Johnny Depp, and Angelina Jolie are all mixed-race. Wood obviously has Asian ancestry; Russians and Ukranians mixed extensively with Mongols. Presley, Depp, and Jolie are all part American Indian, so by your logic they should not be playing the parts of white people.

  • 5minutes

    I was OK with Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal, if only because Khan is a genetically-designed character, and his features could have been designed that way for a purpose. I also understand Affleck’s taking on of the role in Argo. Simply put: he was the director and the acting job probably came as a part of the package. Heck, I’ll even give Lawrence Olivier credit for Othello if only because he could have been misguidedly attempting to smooth relationships between blacks and whites in the middle of the Civil Rights movement.

    I’m less concerned with white people playing non-white roles (or vice-versa… did I hear anyone complain about Morgan Freeman playing an Irishman in The Shawshank Redemption? No? Alrighty then.) than I am with roles that are specifically designed to malign a particular race of people. I’ve always found Rooney’s role one of the most highly offensive roles ever done.

    • thekit10666

      Also, Othello in the play was a Moor, which means he is technically a mixture of African, European, and Middle Eastern influences . As such, it is not solely the realm of “Negro” actors. Also, I will say that Laurence Olivier was an excellent actor taking on a challenging role in 1956 and I have never been one to suggest that only those that look like a character can bring depth to a character. That is how things like Avatar, the Last Airbender by M. Night get made.

  • Harris

    What about John Wayne as Ghengis Khan???

    • 30plusgamer

      Good point. Bad portrayal. Not one of the Duke’s finer moments.

  • Martin Fiero

    What “needs” to happen is stop using the word people of color. Serene, your points are very popular in contemporary society. Despite that very useful fact you still did not write a compelling argument. im not saying its a bad argument. just not compelling.

    • Frederator

      Seconded, bro. Ironic lol.

  • Jeremy

    This whole preachy list offends me. I don’t know what character or ethnicity Benedict Cumberbatch was portraying in “Star Trek : Into Darkness” (partially because the paragraph of self-righteous dribble accompanying the entry doesn’t explain the entry), but it sounds rather silly in a movie including Klingons and Vulcans.
    And why would you stop at skin color? Should Japanese actors portray Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese characters? Should American actors portray British, German, Australian or French characters?

    Bottom line: Actors pretend to be something they are not.

    That’s the job.

    • Dudebro

      the star trek one is really bad lol. i dont think they even reference why its there. just rambles and hopes nobody notices.

    • Brian

      I agree wholeheartedly. It is more offensive to tell people they cant something because of race.

      • Neth

        Next, people will complain about humans portraying as aliens and animals. Acting is supposed to provide one thing, that is the image of a story. So what if a person of one race plays as another? As long as it’s in good taste and doesn’t perpetuate a stereotype, then what is the harm in it?

        • Greenie

          The harm is that non whites have such limited opportunities to see themselves in movies, television, and magazines, that when a character who is not white becomes white, we have even fewer images of ourselves to identify with or fantasize about. Obviously you cannot relate or you wouldn’t have made such a stupid comment. When I was a kid Asian, Latino, and black children had zero superheroes to look up to on Saturday mornings. At Halloween I heard, “You’re black, you can’t be superman!”

      • Kali

        It’s definitely just as offensive to tell people they can’t play roles due to race. Wanting to have actors with the same background as characters is a nice thought, but not realistic. Also, it’s ACTING. Actors ACT like other people, and sometimes that means a different race.

        …though, the Mickey Rooney one from Breakfast at Tiffany’s was pretty awful.

        But Khan, from Star Trek? Not only is it not explained in this list, but it’s pretty invalid. The writer complains that Benedict isn’t the same ethnicity as the original character, but the original actor didn’t watch Khan’s background either. The actor, Ricardo Montalban, is from Mexico while Khan is of Indian background.

        But it doesn’t even matter. It’s acting.

    • Ed

      Good point.

    • lol

      Big difference between country and race, and it’s race that’s implied here, not country.

      • Jeremy

        From my perspective, “race” is a very ambiguous term when you are using it to divide humans into categories. I chose to use the more easily defined (and less likely to offend) “country of origin”.
        Also, I must point out that the author got so specific as to single out Peuro Rican and Okinawan characters as ones that should not be portrayed by “white actors”. If these are “races”, then I definitely need some clarification on what exactly a “race” is.

        • Greenie

          Wow…Are you being facetious or are you really that dumb? So you can’t tell the difference between Orientals and Middle Eastern people and Europeans/whites and people of African descent and Latinos and Inuits and Aboriginees? It’s actually pretty simple, people in America identify as white, black, Asian, Latino, Native American, mixed race, or other.

        • Jeremy

          In one sentence you state “Orientals” and “Middle Eastern people” are races, the in the next you say that people in “people in America identify as white, black, Asian, Latino, Native American, mixed race, or other”.

          And you think I’m the dumb one?

          First of all “Oriental” isn’t a race, it’s a type of rug. Secondly, if you think you can categorize the entire human race into neat little categories like “Asian” “Latino” “black” “white” and “other” then you need to turn off your computer and go out into the world.

          We are people, each of us has unique DNA as a result of our unique ancestry. We are all “other”.

          • randell

            actually there is no difference between the races genetically. all differences are on an individual basis and have nothing to do with social race

          • TheGeneticist

            There are vast genetic differences between the races, that is why they are considered sub-species. The races(sub-species) also produce after their own kind, unless a previous hybridization has occurred. The offspring of a genetically pure male and female of the africanoid sub-species(black race) will always be africanoid(black). The offspring of a genetically pure male and female of the caucasoid sub-species(white race) will always be caucasoid(white). The offspring of a genetically pure male and female of the mongoloid sub-species(asian) will always be mongoloid(asian).

    • Nico

      I was bothered with Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan because all the other actors were doing such an accurate portrayal of their original Star Trek counterparts. Suddenly Khan was white white white. It was like WTF? I wasn’t offended, just abit shocked and it took me out of the movie . It was like, I was needing an explanation as to why he’s ethnicity had changed, within the storyline.

      • Neth

        The funny thing is, the character Khan Noonien Singh (played by Ricardo Montalban) was supposed to be ethnically South Asian (Indian). But none of the men whom played him are South Asian.

        • randell

          Khan was genetically engineered, also he was only Engineered in India they never once say that he was actually genetically Indian

          • Neth

            Actually, in the episode “Space Seed” that he debut in, Lieutenant Marla McGivers was asked by Capt Kirk what his ethnicity was. Khan’s background was suspected to be Sikh, from the northern region of India. His name itself is an Indian name. And Eugenics is the process of selective breeding, not genetic manipulation. In other words, they just kept pairing together superior humans, not using a pastry dish.

            • randell

              sikh is a religion.

              and Khan like all of his subordinates were not only bred but genetically engineered they specifically say this in the original star trek they say that khan like all of his Augments are engineered using DNA re sequencing

    • Theatrecat

      Amen!!! Wth did this author think actors do?!?

      Their entire career is built on pretending to be who they aren’t!

      Of course portrayals like Rooney in breakfast at Tiffany’s or John Wayne playing ghengis khan were offensive…. Consider the era in which they were produced. Or do you prefer revisionist history…. Should all movies be redone to satiate our current eras mores??

  • Layla

    This is the type of article where the author obviously went miles out of her way to find something to bitch about. Next she’ll be whining about how the “not the right kind of Indian but still very human” Johnny Depp played a vampire in “Dark Shadows”. How dare he!!! Or the female Cate Blanchett playing the male Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There”. The nerve!!

    Is it lonely up there on your high horse, Serene?

  • superstarl

    I used to work in Theatre, and it saddens me to see these kinds of lists. I cast many characters outside of their race, depending on who showed up to auditions and how they performed. To me, it was more important to ensure that the person captured the essence of the character through his or her actions and persona than through the color of their skin. While I can understand a complaint along the lines of “I wish Hollywood had a more diverse pool of big name actors”, there is so much more to casting beyond race.
    I will agree that when someone is selected to play a stereotype, its destructive (Johnny Depp in Lone Ranger, Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), but a lot of this list is filled with actors respectfully playing a character.

    • Theatrecat

      To superstarl: you are absolutely correct.

      I have been in theatre productions since I was 3yo and began writing, directing, and producing since I was 12yo. There were times I was working with a specific group of youth…. And using well known characters from pop culture in the show. As soon as my cast list went up, certain predictable adults began griping that “so-and-so should have been cast as fonzie! He has the right hair!” Except he didn’t have the attitude! He didn’t have the carriage needed for that highly recognizable character portrayal. Of course I considered the boy with the hair!! He was not comfortable in that role…. Too shy, too reticent. He was better placed else where. And with very few physical tweaks the boy cast as fonzie was perfect!! Which other youth jumped in to argue in his defense of being cast as fonzie when the not so helpful adults were complaining about who “should have been cast as whom” . None of these Monday quarterbacks attended the audition either.

      I was told early on that I am a “character actor” This means in spite of my lily white welsh and German skin, my features would never allow me to be cast as the ingenue!! I am not white skinned, blue eyed, blonde haired. But I am Caucasian. I just can’t okay them on stage or film! I primarily am cast as non Caucasian characters.

      And I play them well! Like with ANY role I am given I have my own methodology for encompassing all aspects of my characters life and experiences. No serious actor today takes on a role of any type without crawling inside that characters life experiences and embracing those with full authenticity.

      No. We didn’t grow up an Asian minority in a black neighborhood. We also didn’t grow up skinning people or as a cat or keeping our dead mothers body at home!! That’s why we are ACTORS. We portray the experience of being inside someone else’s life and skin for a few hours in a production. That’s why not everyone who attempts to act are tolerable to watch. It’s a skill. This is our skill. One that is groomed, honed, and refined thru education and workshops with masters at our trade. Anyone who has suffered thru a miserable rendition of Brigadoon or Salome can attest that reciting lines on stage does not an actor make!

      Stop obsessing on something as superficial as skin color to decide if one is qualified to play a role is as racist as insisting only whites can play certain roles/ only blacks are allowed in certain roles. How can you NOT see how dangerously racist such a policy would be?! Btw no one complained about half white/half black Halle Berry as Catwoman. Measure the performance of the actor. Stop assigning what roles people can have based on the color of their skin.

      (I once went out for the role of a small child- a 10yo boy. I got it. I was a 20+yo female with a figure. I performed in a theatre in the round with the audience able to reach out and touch me, and a full battery of producers and directors from Hollywood in that audience. Later when I was speaking with the other actors after the run, several people “in the biz” were shocked!! and apologized for thinking I was a child who had been brought in for the role. But that was my JOB: to convince the audience I was someone other than who I was born as!! My skills ~and the aid of a very tight binder~ sold that performance. Bc that’s what actors do).

      Anyone here arguing that only someone with their skin color or genetic racial profile should ever play a character of your racial profile (see where this will lead??) what about my black friend Arthur Gorlorwulu ~an African prince educated in London~ can he play a black man from manhattan?? Or my Asian friend from 90210 who was raised on designer everything!! She should be eligible to play a role from the killing fields?? The ignorance on display from those arguing they can only find role models in people who are only similar to them in skin shades is ludicrous.

  • Jonathan Reiter

    How about if the character is bi-racial? Is that okay or is it not?

  • murph

    What if it was the other way around? How would a black person portray a white one? Would they have to wear “white face”? Or are they just not allowed to play any character outside of their own race? Isn’t that discrimination? I don’t have a problem with people “acting” to be something other that what they are in real life. This is stupid. Unless it is being racist, like the Mickey Rooney, I think any person of any race should be allowed to portray someone of another race. This is not disrespectful.

    • SheTiger

      It has been done. Watch the movie “White Chicks” with the Wayans. Not only is it 2 black actors portraying white characters, but they are black males playing white females. It’s the premise of the whole movie, with FBI agents going undercover.

      • Neth

        Don’t forget many of Eddie Murphy’s films; “Coming to America”, “Nutty Professor”, “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps”, etc… Or how about Eddie Griffin in “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo”, when they were in court and Eddie was dressed as a White guy, white makeup and a blonde wig? But no one complains about that.

        • Greenie

          Really? Then what the hell are you doing? I guess you are a nobody, lol.

        • Juz moore

          No one complaints except you.

    • The Guy

      Agreed. As long as the costume is convincing though lol, otherwise it just makes the movie hard to take seriously.

  • ParusMajor

    While I agree with most of these, I must say this: “Othello” is a play by William Shakespeare, and Sir Laurence Olivier was a famous Shakespearian actor. The protagonist in Shakespeare’s “Othello” happens to be a Moor, NOT an African-American. I don’t understand why an African-American actor would have been better at playing a Moor (which is not the same as an African-American) than a skillful white actor. If all you get from “Othello” is the colour of Othello’s skin, then you aren’t intellectually qualified to read Shakespeare, at all.

    • Ed

      It’s also worth noting that the term “African American” would be inaccurate in describing Shakespearian characters.

  • tasmanian devil

    Have you actually asked any “coloured” people if they find this offensive or are you offended on their behalf?

    • Neth

      How do we know if this person isn’t a “person of color”?

  • Littleoracle

    Yeah, I really hate seeing lists like this. First of all, when saying “this needs to stop” i’d like to point out that a majority of the roles on this list are over 50 years old.

    I also know that Johnny Depp does identify as part Native American. During the filming of the movie, he was adopted by the Comanche tribe due to his bloodline.

    The other fact I’d like to point out is the one of Angelina Jolie. Considering Daniel Pearl’s widow worked very closely with her on PLAYING HERSELF I think she has the last say in all this for someone else to be offended when the widow herself gave her approval seems to sum it up right there.

    The others are ridiculous fantasy roles that have absolutely no merit.

    Find this list incredibly offensive in the fact that it’s using dated material, has no merit, and simply looking for reason to complain. Like one of the poster said before me, they’re picked based on talent. Unless someone is putting on blackface like aL Jolsen in the jazz singer and playing a horrible stereotype, I really this is nitpicking to bring up old hatred, and nothing more.

    • qpenguin

      well spoken. people that write these kinds of lists are looking for nothing more than to stir up controversy where there is none.

  • Buckaroo Baznai

    What, no love for C. Thomas Howell’s ‘Soul Man’?

  • Johnny5

    The one that stands out most to me when I think about white actors playing non-whites is the guy who played the Indian guy from Short Circuit.

  • The Guy

    I like how this guy thinks that movie roles should be exclusive to races.

    Get it together pal, this isn’t the dark ages. If people can put on a convincing costume and they are a good actor, their race shouldn’t matter.

  • StanCard

    Not only is the write-up on the Star Trek one totally nonsensical, it also introduces a great irony to the entire point of this article. The author is upset that a white actor does not look like the Mexican actor who portrayed an Indian character in the original movie/TV show. So I guess the original racial mis-casting is okay so long as the actor shares a somewhat similar skin hue as the intended character, and provided they are not white? How about we just realize these are actors playing characters, and just not bring race into it to begin with.

    • Neth

      I love it!

    • Elaine

      Ricardo Montalban was born in Mexico, so that was his nationality, not his race. His parents were Spanish, as in from Spain. As in European. You know who else is European? Benedict Cumberbatch.

      • walrus protector

        This article lacks common sense and integrity. Let actors act.

      • Pedro Urrutia

        I hate it when people say that Mexican is a race. Ricardo Montalban was a White Mexican. Period. Mexico’s population is composed by: 65% Mestizo (that is mixed blood, European and Native American), 17.5% Native American, 16.5% Caucasian (aka White, European), and 1.0% Other (Asian, Black). Mexican, just like American is a nationality not a race. Unlike the USA, in Mexico (and Hispanic America) the colonizers actually mixed with the Natives. So now, according to you, if Montalban is Spanish and not Mexican then Leo DiCaprio is Italian and not American, because of his ancestry. You’re wrong.

  • Joero

    This is a totally one sided list. Actually it’s seems that Hollywood is starting to change it the other direction. You had the late great Micheal Clark Duncan play the role of King Pin (a traditionally white character in the Marvel Universe) in Daredevil over 10 years ago. Recently Micheal B Jordan has been rumored to play The Human Torch Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four Reboot and Lawerence Fishburne played Perry White in Man of Steel. Granted these are all comicbook movies and they are trying to reach a wider diverse audience due to the fact that a lot of the characters come from an era where Caucasian was the go to ethnicity. All I care about is, Is the actor the best choice to portray the character and due the role justice. It shouldn’t matter on ethnicity. Geez are we in 2014 or 1914. Get over race people there’s a lot more problems to deal with.

    • StanCard

      Don’t forget Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury…

      • Hulkster

        So. Are you being a troll or do you just truly truly not know?

  • randell

    i am sorry but Persians are middle eastern and middle eastern people are in fact light complected compared to other people such as African’s in fact middle eastern are caucasion so having Jake play a prince of Persia is fine

    • Lizzy

      Pupa Jesus!!!!! Tek di case, lmao!!! this person said Middle Eastern is Caucasion! I’m done #Goodbye

      • randell

        i don’t think i know.

        there are only 3 so-called races and they are Negroid Caucasoid and Mongoloid

        middle eastern are not part of the Mongoloid or Negroid races and also they have the same basic skeletal structure the Caucasoid race has if you take a middle eastern person and they have kids in the say England. there not as dark. but if they live in a dark place like say Florida they are far more tan

  • randell

    khan in the original star trek was played by a guy who was not Indian even though the character of khan was supposed to be born in India and more so the character can be any race because khan is genetically engineered

  • Wade

    Al Pacino in Scarface?

  • AlphaOmega

    Actually Khan, as portrayed originally in Star Trek (the tv series), was actually supposed to be Indian – not Hispanic. So Hollywood screwed up the first (TV), second (Star Trek II), and third (Star Trek In to the Darkness) time they brought Khan Noonien Singh to any screen.

    That being said, I loved the latest Star Trek Film. In fact Scotty wasn’t even originally played by anyone Scottish (James Doohan is technically Canadian and Simon Pegg is English) and I don’t remember people being all that upset. Hell, Ben Kingsley has played Gandhi, Lenin, and the Mandarin to name a few characters that might not be completely accurately portrayed by the “right kind of” actor (he is half-Indian, but I am pretty sure he is not Russian or Chinese).

    That being said, what M. Knight did with the Last Airbender was ridiculous. The only choice I really liked was making the Fire Nation Indians. Although why Uncle Iroh was – I don’t know Ukranian (?) maybe – is a mystery to me. Why they decided to make the Water Tribe a bunch of (really horribly acting) white people is beyond me as well.

    And lately it seems that the trend is starting to reverse – Michael Clark Duncan played the Kingpin in the last Dare Devil movie, Idris Elba just played Heimdall in Thor, and Michael B Jordan might become the next Human Torch for the next FF movie. The former two did excellent work in their respective roles and there is no reason not to believe that Jordan will be great as Johnny Storm. I mean, I don’t understand why people are so upset at the prospect of a black guy playing the Human Torch when Sue Storm was last played by a woman who is of Mexican ancestry (Jessica Alba). And personally I don’t care that Jake Gylenhaal played the Prince of Persia (that movie was destined to be terrible) – I just want to know why everyone sounded English.

  • qpenguin

    This is one crap list. On number 3 you have a fictitious character. Why not then post Atreyu from The neverending story as he was originaly green skinned? At number 1 you have Johnny depp seriously? Are you just looking for racism in movies? So what are you really saying here? That people cannot dress as another kind of person in this world, perhaps we should be offended if someone dresses as a catholic priest and they are not religiously catholic. Oh but wait for some reason making fun of religion thats acceptable. These people are playing characters in film not representing an entire race of people. Its like a kind of slap stick humor like Gedde Watanabe’s characters he portrayed in the movies the volunteers and sixteen candles. white people do not have to stop appearing as other races just because some moron takes offense, the only way you could take offense is if YOU think other people will get offended. Most of those movies i grew up with as well as alot of people, i am not white by the way and do not take offense. There is always an article about racism or look out it might be racist articles every other day. What the hell is wrong with your new age thinking. If you really think these movies are offensive you really need to take a long hard look at yourself.

  • Susansafone

    This drives me crazy. Hispanic, Latino, Cuban, Mexican, Indian are not races. People need to stop treating national origin as a race. There are dark-skinned and light-skinned people from all of the above places. Africa is a continent, not a race, and also contains people of various colors. There are indigenous peoples who do represent races, but “Hispanic” is not a race or a color. The author perpetuates the “racism” of Northern Europeans.

  • STG

    Newsflash, not all Persians are brown. There are chunks of whites and/or Jewish persians too. Eg: Adrian Pasdar.
    Also, Puerto Rico had a significant white populations (still do somwhat) in 40s/50s

  • Meghan

    The most racist list I´ve ever seen.

  • Neth

    Why doesn’t anyone get upset about Eddie Murphy playing as White people? Which he has done in many of his movies.

    Or Native Americans playing as Spaniards: IE Jay Tavare as Vega in “Street Fighter” or Taboo as Vega “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li”? Or Native Americans playing as Asians; IE Wes Studi as Sagat in “Street Fighter”? Or how about a Hispanic–Ricardo Montalban–playing as a Hindu in Star Trek?

    Or since we’re nitpicking different ethnic roles, but are still in the same race (Prince of Persia, sorry to inform the ignorant, but Persians and Europeans are both Caucasian, hence the same race); Why not mention when Native American actors from one tribe plays as Natives from other tribes in opposite parts of the American continent? For example; Adam Beach is an Ojibwa from Canada, whom has played numerous roles as a Navajo and Comanche. But the Comanche and Navajo are not like the Ojibwa. You see, the list can go on. Only griping about Whites playing non-whites is discrimination as well.

    • Neth

      Also, to educate people about Caucasians, since it seems many people think Caucasians are only from Europe… Read this:

      adjective \?ko?-?k?-zh?n, -?kazh-?n\ (Medical Dictionary)
      Medical Definition of CAUCASIAN
      : of or relating to the white race of humankind as classified according to physical features
      : of or relating to the white race as defined by law specifically as composed of persons of European, North African, or southwest Asian ancestry

      Also, to further state that Hispanic is a term that refers to ANYONE regardless of race, whom has Spanish ancestry. So you can be White, Black, Asian, or Native American, and if you have Spanish ancestors, then you’re Hispanic. I’m Hispanic and I’m light complected. My ancestors were from Spain. The reason many in Latin America are dark, is due to their Native American DNA.

    • Kibbs

      Jay Tavare is not Native American, turns out he’s from Iran but passed himself off as Italian, then Native American. In this actor’s case he mislead the tribes and charities and fans. Got cut off from native charities and reservations eventually. I don’t think people like to be misled and lied to. No problem non-native playing native parts.

  • Neth

    I’m also surprised the author didn’t mention Masiela Lusha (whom is Albanian) playing George Lopez’s daughter Carmen (Whom was Mexican) in the George Lopez show.

    Or Iron Eyes Cody, whom was born Espera DeCorti, the son of two first-generation immigrants from Italy. But always plays in films as a Native American.

  • RebeccaOlesen

    Regarding the Prince of Persia – Persia was invaded by Arab and Turqic muslims, and became Iran. Persians, originating from the land of Aria, also known as Arians – right, get it? Aryans? As in Aryan Brotherhood or Hitler’s Aryan master race? Hitler was allies with Iran, because they were white Aryans and because they hated jews.

    So I don’t know exactly what you think a ‘PERSIAN’ is supposed to look like?? But, a great many Iranians still have blue eyes, green eyes, blonde hair, and completely 100% Caucasian features. They only reason any of them look Arabic today, is because they were conquered by Arabs.

    Tell me something, are you just so stupid you think that every country that exists today has always existed and that the people who live there have always looked like they do right now? Or do you just not care, because you are a white hating racist?

    For future reference, Europe and most of what is how referred to as the Middle East – (starting with Turkey, Syria, Iraq – these 3 countries were inhabited by Indigenous Assyrians, Armenians and HELLENIC GREEKS (like Cleopatra) ) and including Iran, Afghanistan, and into countries like Turkmenistan, Tajikistan,, etc. were originally inhabited by people with white, red and light brown hair – fair complexions & blue, green or grey eyes.

    Until the Islamic wave of invasions of Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy) Turkey, ‘the holy land’ (middle east) including PERSIA, what is now Afghanistan and other areas. After which they enforced mass immigration of Arabs, Moorish & Turkiq muslims into the areas, which completely changed the overall demographics of the areas.

    Learn some history if you’re going to be all self righteous bitchy about ‘WHITES’ versus ‘PEOPLE OF COLOR’ which apparently you believe white people have no color whatsoever – and anyone ‘BROWN’ has a color. Is that about right??

  • RebeccaOlesen

    JOHNNY DEPP’s MOTHER IS FULL CHEROKEE. Why are you referring to him as ‘white’ man playing ‘native american’ and you’re all upset about it, and how wrong it is for him to do that.

    You caveat, ” Depp is not of the ancestry of the character who portrays” (did you mean to say ‘character HE portrays’?) huh?

    Is that your little weasel words to cover your behind? Obscured meaning: HE IS native american, but NOT OF THE ANCESTRY OF THE CHARACTER. Could you be more misleading and disingenuous.

    Let’s get something straight. The character of Tonto is completely fictional, so what difference does it make. He was not even based on a real native american, or made to reflect any accurate portrayal of the Pottawatomie tribe – and was only said to be from that tribe, because the guy who wrote the Lone Ranger was from Michigan and that’s where that tribe is from. In other words, that’s the one he had heard of.

    • Greenie

      Calm down, sweetie, did you forget your meds this morning? It’s an online article, nothing to get hysterical about.

  • adriana

    Omg, get over it. Any excuse to cry racism.

  • Juz moore

    OK, since white people – in the comment section – feel this ‘white actor portrayal of colored roles’ is a non-issue (so do I) then they should have no problem accepting a African-American Johnny Storm for the new Fantastic Four movie.

  • corkey

    Johnny Depp is half Native American, so he had every right to play Tonto if he wanted too.

  • breezin

    Elvis had Cherokee heritage.

  • CRB

    Maybe you should have done your research first because both Depp and Presley had Native American ancestry. Also while the Cuban portion is not true with Angelina Jolie, her character was of African descent, which has nothing to due with being black because a good portion of the population in Africa is white. Also Khan, in the original show/movie, was darker but it was more along the lines of a darker skinned white person, and being quite a time elapsed he could have easily just darkened up. My father is very dark now despite being a very light skinned teen/early 20 year old. I agree many of these are true but you also have to take in to account who they find at the time who could play the role. Yes, maybe someone of Persian descent could have played as well as Jake, but maybe they didnt audition.

  • Hossein Diba

    WTF!!!!!!!!! it seems people don’t know the fact that for example in Iran, there are white, brown,yellow and black people living together,making a country. when you say Persians, it doesn’t mean they are all from the same race. I am Iranian, I have white skin, brown eyes. but I have a friend in our neighborhood who is brown. Just get the fact that middle eastern is not a race and you can find different races in middle east,white,brown,black and……………

  • Movie guy

    Author is trying too hard. It’s called acting. Sure Rooney and Brando playing Asians is stupid and a casting fail. White actors have been playing Othello for ages. I’ve seen Latino’s who look like Natalie Wood and Affleck, bi-racial women who look like Jolie and Greeks who look like Taylor. Actually Elvis and Depp look native American too. Again, it’s acting. Quit being so sensitive or at least so desperate for a article.

  • max

    You completely left out John Wayne as Genghis Khan

  • Suzanne Rosenorn

    If someone is good enough to portray someone so different and does a good job and is believeable, so what? They are a good actor. What I find offensive is that SNL purposely hired a black woman because of race. Now I find that insulting.

  • Black Hippie

    What annoys me, is when people of color are cast to play WHITE people!?! Case & Point: Jessica Alba, Wentworth Miller, Rashida Jones, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Beals. Or worse, Carol Channing who knew she was biracial and never told anyone until she was in her 80s because she didn’t want to “hurt her career”. SERIOUSLY!?!

    Love yourself for who you are & respect who you are enough to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH HOLLYWOOD! If you want Angelina Jolie to star as the leading lady of your film, don’t try to portray her as a afro-cuban lady, cast an actual afro-cuban woman, or better yet, save Jolie for a film that calls for a white woman.

  • T.J. Thomas

    …But then Fox news anchors get all uptight when somebody suggests a non-white Santa Claus…

  • Yaz

    Er, I hate to tell the people on here this but, clearly, it’s a good hint of white privilege being sprinkled around.

    People of the Caucasian race. Somehow, this idea of people being offended because white actors are playing minority characters and some(I know I do) are irritated about this is strange. I don’t think you can understand because all you do see is white people. Everywhere. Magazines, models, commercials, I mean, I can’t even play my sims game without all the base families except for three out thirteen being white.

    I can’t play RPGs with character creation that get my skin tone because we’re all just four shades. Tan, Brown, black like night, and that little off-white tan that Southeast Asians have.

    Miniorities didn’t get their own cartoon until, what, Dora the Explorer( do you count Fat Albert? If a good chunk of all ethnicities watched it, then okay, there’s one)? Sophia?(so we crossed off hispanics and/or latinos, I think there might Doctor something-or-other so black people are crossed off, we did have that Asian cartoon but it was cancelled soooo, well, that’s some progress), Now, how many cartoons can you think up with white main characters versus all the miniorites. I’m not even going to make hard for you by dividing it into black, asian, middle-eastern, nah, all of them except for white. Which list is bigger?

    Surprise. Surprise.

    Like, seriously, what’s up with this whining? What are you even sacrificing for a few characters being played true to their history. You see white people literally EVERYWHERE. These are the few times, where miniorities, can go, “Hey, I wonder if they’ll be wearing blank blank. My mom used to.” Or “While they’re eating dinner, it would be so cool if they were eating blank blank or watching blank blank”. We can have a connection to these characters. We. It’s not about you. In fact it has nothing to do with you. We see your green-eyed, blonde, brunette, hazel-eyed selves all day, every day. I just saw some woman in a tropical commercial. No one knows her name. It doesn’t matter. But I bet you they were put in for casting, “Searching for young, attractive white female”. Just like the hundreds before her.

    To have a portrayal of a miniority in America. You’d think we didn’t exist by our television shows. Britain has more people of color. You reading? BRITAIN. THE BRITISH ISLES, where they still poke cruelly at their own people(Scots and Welsh). Miniorities have been an active part of the community in America for almost a hundred years.

    In all honesty, we know damn well most of these actors were chosen without a thought to looking for real people of that ancestry first.
    Actors or not, when a black man plays a white man are you looking at him as a white man? Do you think? “Hm. he reminds me of my dad. I could see him being a white man.” Or are you going, “They chose a black man. I can’t see it.”. Hm, it’s almost exactly our reaction to every single person in that list.
    (except for Khan. You might as well had just changed his name anyway. Really, I could die laughing if some white man came up to me and said his name was Khan Noonien Singh. I’d be like, “Adopted, huh?” You know he’s not getting any jobs with that name( Anybody going to try and deny this?”

    And then you got those who when it doesn’t matter what race they are. Like Nick Fury,(really. does no one know black history, it’s black history month and how much does anybody know about the Tuskagee airmen. The black mason banks? Hm? Can’t be a commander ’cause he’s black and it wasn’t “the time” for it. Jesus, you may not know anything about something serious like the airmen and the banks, but damned if you know a black man could be a commander or not. The things you see on the internet.)

    I don’t think you guys really understand what it’s like to be treated like you don’t exist everywhere you go or that you’re not a part of the community because the way you look. I can honestly say even my five year old cousin knows the difference and she’s surrounded by white people who remind her everyday that she’s a “little” different.

    Seriously, it’ll probably continue going this way because for every Kerry Washingtons and Idris Elbas you have five DiCaprios, Brad Pitts, Charlize Therons, Jolies, and the list goes. . .

    So, take a breath. And chill, because white people’s feelings being ignored, I know, it’s a deal-breaker all around the world. Here, have the pleasure of knowing when you turn on the TV all you’ll see is white people with the occasional black man. Or, maybe, even an Asian. But there will always be a white man with his pretty white woman by his side.

    You guys can have Cleopatra. I heard she had a genetic disorder that disfigured her face? Hm.

    But Egyptians are black because religion, language, food, and culture(the basis for any analysis) were similar to African cultures in that area rather than the Greco-Romans who like most caucasian-based cultures liked to say they owned something without actually owning it. (was that a burn? )

    They whole reason they started wearing wigs is just like how black people where weaves today. They couldn’t grow their hair long and take care of it effectively.

    And. Moors are generally black aka North African. My ancestors were bedouin Moors. I mean, this is proven fact. They were brown. Dark. Brown. Berbers. Moors. Black and/or middle-eastern but they certainly weren’t of “caucasoid” ancestry if we’re getting technical. No light skin, hair or eyes and their hair was certainly not thin or pin-straight.

    • chanel

      THANK YOU!!!!!! These people have no clue what they’re talking about.

  • txon

    OMG!!! Who cares about this? All of these movies are fiction – made-up, make believe (except A Mighty Heart – which is a true story). All of these actors are acting – playing someone, not themselves. I think in most cases what drives casting is an actor’s ability to bring in bucks at the box office. After all, the goal is to make money and whatever needs to be sacrificed to make money will be done.

  • Bertaummadome Jones

    The reason that Natalie Wood had to play was because a different races could not kiss on screen. Thats why even though Lena Horne had starred in Showboat on Broadway Ava Gardner played the character and they darkened her skin.

  • bdiz

    Samuel L Jackson, black man playing white guy.

    Nick Fury of SHIELD is a White Character in Marvel Comics.

    • Hulkamania

      Except he was playing the role of Ultimate Universe Nick. Fury, that is a black man and was designed to look like Jackson years before the movies.

  • Rebecca Danis

    I agree with this, but I also think that sometimes the best actor is through personality and I think it would be interesting to see non white actors don white face for some roles. Why not? The whole definition of acting is to become other than what you are. Why limit actors of any race? Also, why define what race an actor has to be? If they can do the personality, just let them play the part. Unfortunately this philosophy has been used only for white actors. It needs to be extended to all. I know the film “White Chicks” was a comedy, but I think Shawn and Marlon Wayans looked really pretty as white females, although their voices reminded me of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in “Some Like it Hot”. I could see Shawn and Marlon doing a remake of that film. I think they have been the best believable, at least facially, males doing females ever. I think the issue is, is that casting calls need to be more open to people of color and people should experiment with white face if need be. In the film “Cloud Atlas” many actors played reincarnated versions of their other characters and changed race. It was very cool, although I think the caucasian actor w/ asian makeup didn’t work out so well, but that is because of his overall face shape. The asian actress Doona Bae played asian females as well as wearing white face to play a caucasian woman with curly red hair. I thought she looked very good. So the main problem here is people of color are not getting enough roles. Also there are not enough good roles for people of color to play people of color. Plus why does race have to matter when telling most stories, unless they are biographical ? To say any actor cannot have a part because they are not that race is a racist stance. To be truly non racist, color or race should not be an issue, just hire more non whites. People are making money and everybody’s happy.

  • A

    I find it amusing that you decry Benedict Cumberbatch playing a person of supposedly Indian ethnicity (I say supposedly because the character is genetically engineered so its kind of silly to assume he looked like a person of Indian ethnicity just because of his name) but you say nothing of the casting of Ricardo Montalbán, a person that while born and raised in Mexico was the son of two Spanish (as in from Spain ) immigrants therefore also white, nor of the fact that he originally played the character in black face.
    Also regarding Jake Gyllenhaal casting as a “Middle Eastern” Persian prince, I think persons of Persian descent, like Christiane Amanpour, might take exception to being called Middle Eastern, the two groups, Persians people, and I assume that by middle-eastern you are probably picturing Semitic people, Arabs and Israelis, have completely different origins and semblances. For starters, Persians have lighter features.

  • Sunshine

    Whoever wrote this article obviously didn’t do their homework. Both Johnny Depp and Elvis Presley are of Native American ancestry. Elvis was part Cherokee, as his great-great-great grandmother was said to be a full blooded Cherokee. Also, Johnny Depp’s great grandmother grew up in the Cherokee (or possibly Creek) tribe. Johnny Depp is part African as well. Just because people are perceived as one race doesn’t mean that they aren’t multiple races, and to assume that is ignorant. People should check their facts before chastising someone.

  • Ronny

    The Benedict Cumberbatch inclusion is irrelevant to the point. The race of Khan was not specified in the series or original movies, therefore it didn’t matter who played the part.

  • ozwald

    This list is a good demonstration of how to lose long time readers. Unsubscribing.

    • Shell Harris

      Ozwald, sorry this was so offensive to you that you felt you could no longer be a part of TopTenz. I do hope you reconsider. I try to pick articles that show many viewpoints and that can sometimes be hard with topics on which we all don’t agree. I personally don’t agree with everything on my site, but I do try to allow freedom of expression and I allow the other writers to provide different views on published articles, such as this article written in response to the article on this page.

      I value every reader and try to respond when they voice displeasure about that site. Hopefully you will give us another try.

  • Blanca Perez

    Actors make their livings portraying characters that are different from their own personal characteristics. Should an actor have to be a doctor to play a doctor?

    What’s racist is this article by someone who has nothing better to do than contrive a reason to be offended.

  • SB

    The comment about Elvis is a bit unfair. His great great grandmother WAS Native American and there was a marriage between first cousins after that so it may be wrong to assume he had no knowledge or appreciation of the role. It’s part of his personal history. Thick black hair high cheekbones and a dark complexion its not like they even had to try very hard there are plenty of people who identify as Native American who fit the same profile…

    • shawn

      TOP 10???

      Ridiculous! How could you forget Anthony Hopkins and Wentworth Miller (he’s a person of color) in ‘The Human Stain? ‘ OH EM GEE!

  • Adam

    Last time I checked, Cuban wasn’t a race nor is Puerto Rican nor is Mexican, and Latino is a heterogeneous pan-ethnicity that consists of people of ANY race, so who’s the one doing the misrepresentation again?

  • Lujain

    Elvis Presley’s grandma was a cherokee. So he is half native american..