9:13am PT by THR Staff
#OscarsSoWhite: John Oliver Mocks Hollywood Whitewashing, Public Outrage at Minority Casting
Just in time for Sunday's Oscars and its diversity controversy, John Oliver took a moment out of Last Week Tonight to poke fun at Hollywood's whitewashing.
"For the second year running, the nominees are whiter than a yeti in a snowstorm, fighting Tilda Swinton," noted the segment's voiceover, adding that it might not be the fault of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Even when there are roles for nonwhite actors, they still sometimes get played by white people."
The segment included news clips covering the casting controversies of Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular character of Prince of Persia, Emma Stone as half-Asian in Aloha and Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale as the Egyptian characters Moses and Ramses in Exodus: Gods and Kings. "That was a guy from Australia and a guy from England pretending to be two guys from Egypt — a country in Africa," said the narrator of the latter, also noting that the upcoming Gods of Egypt stars "a Scottish guy," Gerard Butler.
The reel also outlined some of the most well-known whitewashed castings — John Wayne played Genghis Khan in The Conqueror, Mickey Rooney played a "broadly exotic" Asian landlord in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Natalie Wood played a Puerto Rican in West Side Story — plus more recent ones, including 21 and The Lone Ranger. Plus, films about minorities still put white actors in the foreground, some of whom have won Oscars for them. "How are we supposed to believe Tom Cruise is The Last Samurai?!"
"Maybe all of us would be less egregious if anytime an actor of color took on a traditionally white role, half the country didn't go apeshit," the voiceover pointed out over clips of Quvenzhane Wallis in Annie, Michael B. Jordan in Fantastic Four and John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, plus chatter of Idris Elba playing James Bond.
Watch the segment here.