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Casting Agent Fired For Seeking Hobbits With ‘Light Skin Tones’

Just as it appeared that the worst of The Hobbit‘s troubles were behind it, Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation has become entangled in a racial controversy.

Agence France-Presse reports a casting agent has been fired after placing a newspaper ad for extras with “light skin tones” and for telling a prospective performer that she was too dark to play one of the residents of the Shire.

The issue came to light after Naz Humphreys, a British actress with Pakistani heritage, said she waited in line last week for three hours at a casting session in Hamilton, New Zealand, only to be told her skin tone was not right for a hobbit. The Waikato Times reported that video from the session showed the casting agent telling would-be extras that, “We are looking for light-skinned people. I’m not trying to be — whatever. It’s just the brief. You’ve got to look like a hobbit.”

A spokesman for Jackson’s Wingnut Films emphasized that the agent wasn’t given any such race restrictions, and “it’s not something we instructed or condoned.”

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Comments

  • Madmike

    Are hobbits white? or are they a multi-ethnic race? Wouldn’t this movie be better if they added an asian hobbit that knew kung-fu? and a jive-talking black hobbit for comedy relief? Hell Yes!!! When is Hollywood going to get it?

  • Anonymous

    Ridiculous. They should have just lied to her and said she couldn’t act. What’s this world coming to? The Shire is an extremely tiny community and they abhor traveling and interacting with outsiders. Of course they’re all going to be similar in skin tones. It’s not racist, it’s a part of the story.
    Undoubtedly this broad is gonna sue and make production woes even worse for the films. A nice way to put the final nail in the coffin for the New Zealand film-making community.
    (Of course, this type of thing is S.O.P. in the States, so it’s difficult to be excessively angry. Except they can’t afford those type of shenanigans over there at this delicate time.)

  • Kb32720

    So basically… you guys are saying that the residents of a fantasy location that doesn’t exist, from an era of human history that never actually occurred, all have to be white people? Interesting…

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t the Hobbit based on European folk lore? Kinda confused on why this is an issue.

  • Guy

    Did anyone even read the actual source article? It mentions the Harfoots, which were “browner of skin” than the other hobbits, as well as the most numerous of hobbits. The emphasized words were from Tolkien himself. All anyone has to do is read the linked article and then search Harfoots, it takes 10 seconds.

  • Semicyon3

    Yes, we are sorta saying that. *I* am saying that as a person of color. I don’t believe this is quite an example of oppressive racism. I think in a small community like the Hobbits lived in, a limited range of skin color, features, hair color wouldn’t be surprising. Did they need to all be Caucasian-colored, however? I don’t know the material well enough to know for sure.

  • Semicyon3

    Ah… didn’t see that this was linked to another article. Ok… she does have a valid concern if there are indeed Harfoots in this.

  • Anonymous

    This is the section of the article you’re referring to:
    {In “The Lord of the Rings”, Tolkien described three races of Hobbits inhabiting the Middle Earth fantasy world which is the setting for the movies, including harfoots, who “were browner of skin” than the others.}
    It says nothing about casting including the other two races. If they are then the casting agent made a definite mistake. If the Hobbits being cast are inhabitants of the Shire then they are going to consist of at most a couple hundred people who are all interrelated and segregated from outsiders. That’s their nature.
    I guess none of us were there, so none of us know what the actual conditions surrounding the casting are. Can’t say you’re wrong, can’t say I’m wrong.

  • Guy

    But, if you are going by Tolkien’s word, most of the original settlers of The Shire were in fact Harfoots. Plus Harfoots were known to settle for long periods of time, so it could be argued, using the source material, that some of the hobbits living in the Shire would in fact have brown skin. All based on the words of The Man himself.

  • Ritchie

    Um…the casting director was probably doing their job. What was in the specific casting notice? Does this actor realize skin color is critical for the dp? One dark one pale, there’s extra work involved in lighting the scene.
    Every day old, young, skiny, tall, fat, short, dark haired, light haired, etc. don’t get jobs for being what they cannot change. I suggest this “actor” learns The Business and submits only for roles they are right for.
    No wonder why there are so many lazy actors out there complaining. If you aren’t right for the role, don’t submit and move on. I’ve had men submit for female roles WTF? Doesn’t surprise me.

  • Anonymous

    Son, you have NO idea what you’re talking about. There may be extra work involved but it’s kinda trivial for most productions.

    And if you’ve read any of the stories, this casting director was fired for NOT doing their job and adding in extraneous requirements.

  • Anonymous

    2 words. Make up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/strivearth Zen Strive

    politically incorrect politically correct. shenanigans!

  • Arcusprime

    Watch for the remake of “Zulu Dawn” with white people as tribesmen and Jackie Chan as Col. Durnford.

  • Coryjameson

    Casting multi-ethnic Hobbits is like making a movie about Norse Gods, based on Northern European Mythology, and having a worldwide multiethnic cast where Heimdall is actually African but does not belong to an African Mythological pantheon – oh, wait…

    Doesn’t everyone get it? It’s totally ok to steal white characters and re-appropriate them for other races. But goddamn you if you cast Chris Evans as Black Panther. What? Evans has got the physique for it? What’s the problem?

  • Shwa

    Haven’t they seen Merlin? Black people were all over medieval England (aka The Shire).

    *facepalm*

  • shwa

    Pretty much all of the Shire hobbits are Harfoots or part Harfoot, which means that they should all look more or less similar, and since we’ve already established what the Shire hobbits look like in three other films, you can’t really go throwing in a curve ball.

    Besides, everyone is being a little free with the interpretation of “browner of skin”. They are browner of skin in relation to the Fallohides who are fair skinned like the elves. In relation to Orlando Bloom, my lily white @$$ is “browner of skin” but I don’t look Pakistani.

    Politically correctness gone too far, IMHO, and I’m a Hollywood liberal.

  • Meresweetas

    I went to audtition for the extra hobbit thing in Hamilton NZ on the 23rd Nov.2010.
    The guy at the door made it quite clear to us, the waiting throng of hopeful hobbitts of all races, that they were seeking a specific look, and that was light skin tones ,and that they also needed to meet a certain height requirement .
    I was one the of the short and “fair” Maori hopefuls ( my aunt and cousin were the others) to meet their requirements and we were processed the same as those others who made it through the door.
    There were two or three men of darker hues( Pakistan or India could have been theirs or their forebears home of origin) but they were also taller than the height required and sadly for them they were turned away at the door.