Though Hollywood has previously found critical and box-office success adapting books by nonfiction writer Michael Lewis (see Moneyball, The Big Short), there’s a reason why the industry hasn’t capitalized on his book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt — at least according to Lewis. Entertainment Weekly has Lewis claiming that movie studios are hesitant to cast an Asian actor as the lead in a Flash Boys adaptation, which is a problem since the story’s main character, IEX co-founder Bradley Katsuyama, is a real person, of real Asian descent. Back when the best seller was released in 2014, Aaron Sorkin was brought on to write the movie version, but the project has stalled ever since.
“Right now [the Flash Boys adaptation is] close to dead,” Lewis said during an event at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival on Saturday. “The problem was revealed in the Sony hack. There were emails back and forth about how impossible it was to make a movie with an Asian lead.” He added, “They’ve gotten to the point where they’re nervous about making an Asian guy a white guy. Decades ago, they weren’t. They would have just done that. But they don’t think there’s a well-enough known Asian male actor. Which I think is crazy.”
As EW points out, Lewis’s comments reflect a growing controversy in Hollywood about the whitewashing of Asian roles. Recently Ghost in the Shell, Aloha, The Martian, and Death Note have all been accused of casting white actors in roles that were originally written as Asian characters. Just last week, Ed Skrein drew praise for backing out of the Hellboy reboot when it was called out that his character, Major Ben Daimio, is actually Asian-American.