Black actors, green and blue faces

Idris Elba is in four major studio films this year, but you won’t see his face in any of them. Three of those high-profile jobs are voice roles: In addition to playing Chief Bogo in Zootopia and Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, Elba has a supporting part in Pixar’s upcoming Finding Dory. His only live-action role in the lot is playing the villainous Krall in Star Trek Beyond, where he’s buried under so many facial prosthetics that he’s more than unrecognizable — he’s a different color entirely…

I wish I could call all these castings a fluke. I worry they’re not. Look at Lupita Nyong’o, whose most notable roles since winning the Oscar for 12 Years a Slave have been playing the orange alien Maz Kanata in Star Wars and the white wolf Raksha in The Jungle Book. In this summer’s video-game adaptation Warcraft, Paula Patton is slathered in green paint as the half-human, half-orc Garona, which makes me wonder if she consulted Zoe Saldana for advice before taking the role: After all, Saldana has already played green in Guardians of the Galaxy and blue in Avatar. [link]

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