DC Entertainment reportedly passed on ‘Bridgerton’ breakout Rege-Jean Page for a role in Syfy’s ‘Krypton’ after an executive allegedly argued that the series’ lead could not be portrayed by a Black actor.
Before his star skyrocketed with the release of Shonda Rhimes’ hit period drama, Page auditioned to play Superman’s grandfather in the action program, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Despite the ‘Krypton’ creators’ reported desire to diversify the DC Extended Universe, then-DC chief creative officer Geoffrey Johns allegedly said Superman’s grandfather could not be Black.
In a statement paraphrased Tuesday by THR, a rep for Johns defended the casting decision on the grounds that the Hollywood exec “believed fans expected the character to look like a young Henry Cavill,” who is white and plays Superman in the DC films. The starring role in ‘Krypton,’ which ran for two seasons from 2018 to 2019, eventually went to white actor Cameron Cuffe.
Representatives for Page did not immediately respond Tuesday to the LA Times’ request for comment.
The ‘Krypton’ casting revelation is one of multiple accusations levelled against Johns in THR’s new profile of actor Ray Fisher, who opened up about alleged mistreatment he experienced at the hands of Johns and other powerful DC figures — including embattled director Joss Whedon, who helmed reshoots for the 2017 film ‘Justice League.’
Last year on Twitter, Fisher accused Whedon of exhibiting “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behaviour on the set of “Justice League,” which starred the actor as Victor Stone, aka Cyborg. He added that Whedon was “enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg” and has continued to vocalise his dissatisfaction on social media regarding how Warner Bros handled its subsequent investigation into his concerns.
Speaking to THR, Fisher accused Johns of dismissing multiple issues he raised about the on-screen character of Cyborg and Whedon’s leadership, among other alleged transgressions. In various statements to THR, a rep for Johns pushed back against Fisher’s allegations.
“I don’t believe some of these people are fit for positions of leadership,” Fisher told the trade publication. “I don’t want them excommunicated from Hollywood, but I don’t think they should be in charge of the hiring and firing of other people ... If I can’t get accountability, at least I can make people aware of who they’re dealing with.”
‘Aquaman’ actor Jason Momoa and ‘Wonder Woman’ star Gal Gadot have also commented on their experiences working on ‘Justice League.’ When Gadot took issue with some of Wonder Woman’s lines, Whedon allegedly forced her to film them anyway, threatened to sabotage her career and insulted “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, according to sources who spoke with THR.
Whedon declined to comment for THR’s piece.
“I had my own experience with [Whedon], which wasn’t the best one, but I took care of it there and when it happened,” Gadot told The Times last year in a statement similar to the one she gave THR. “I took it to the higher-ups and they took care of it. But I’m happy for Ray to go up and say his truth.”
Among the non-‘Justice League’ cast members who reached out to Fisher with their thoughts on Whedon and Johns were former ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ star Charisma Carpenter — who recently accused ‘Buffy’ showrunner Whedon of retaliatory behaviour on social media — as well as some “Krypton” alumni, according to THR.
In addition to allegedly refusing to cast a Black actor as the series lead, Johns was accused by ‘Krypton’ writer Nadria Tucker of rejecting her advice about depicting a Black character with shifting hairstyles.
“I said Black women, we tend to change our hair frequently,” Tucker told THR. “It’s not weird, it’s a Black thing. ... And he said, ‘No, it’s not.’”
In a statement to THR, a rep for Johns argued that “standard continuity notes for a scene are being spun in a way that are not only personally offensive to Geoff, but to the people that know who he is, know the work he’s done and know the life he lives.
“Geoff has personally seen first-hand the painful effects of racial stereotypes concerning hair and other cultural stereotypes,” the rep added, “having been married to a Black woman who he was with for a decade and with his second wife, who is Asian American, as well as his son who is mixed race.”
Tucker responded to the THR story Tuesday by tweeting, “Why was Geoff Johns okay with Zod, traditionally a villain, being Black but not Superman, obviously a hero? I wonder. What could it be???”