Disney is facing accusations of ‘whitewashing’ after news that the studio has cast British actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role for a remake of Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale.
The film tells the story of the eponymous Squanto, who helped form the first relationship between European settlers and his fellow Indigenous Peoples. The original film, released in 1994, was an early breakthrough for Anishinaabe actor Adam Beach.
“No one is saying Cumberbatch isn’t a talented actor, but come on, the man’s so white he’s practically translucent,” said Indigenous media critic Bessie Venti.
“At the very least they could have cast Johnny Depp.”
Disney, meanwhile, said it is using a groundbreaking new digital process to darken Cumberbatch’s skin and hair for the role. The studio is also digitally generating ‘authentic-looking’ Indigenous extras for many of the movie’s scenes.
There are few details about how the story will be retold but the studio confirmed that Taylor Swift has been added to the cast. Her character, Nakooma, was originally played by Inuit and Cree actor Irene Bedard.