Tilda Swinton responds to ‘Doctor Strange’ whitewashing claims

Critics say she's a white actress playing a character who's Tibetan in the source material

Tilda Swinton has replied to critics who are claiming that the character she plays in this autumn’s Doctor Strange movie is an example of Hollywood ‘racism’.

Swinton is playing the Ancient One in Marvel’s next-but-one film, a character who in the comics is a Tibetan-born male. However, when the first trailer dropped earlier this month, Swinton was very clearly white, prompting an outcry over cultural appropriation and “whitewashing” – both very hot topics in the film industry at the moment.

Talking to the Hollywood Reporter, however, Swinton admitted she was aware of the backlash, and attempted to reassure aggrieved fans.


“Well, it’s not actually an Asian character – that’s what I need to tell you about it,” she said. “I wasn’t asked to play an Asian character, you can be very well assured of that.”

She added: “You just have to wait and see, because it’s not an Asian character.”

Swinton wasn’t the only focus of fan anger that big movie studios are in the habit of giving the parts of beloved ethnic minority characters to caucasian actors this week. Two days after the Doctor Stranger trailer appeared, Paramount Pictures released the first photograph of Scarlett Johansson’s turn as the cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi in its adaptation of the iconic anime film Ghost In The Shell.

Major Kusanagi is arguably a much more famous character in geek culture – especially in Japan, where she was first created, and whose fandom reacted with sadness and resignation when they saw Johansson dressed up as her.

Doctor Strange is out in the UK on 4 November, while Ghost In The Shell is out on 29 March 2017.