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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.”