Actor Shia LaBeouf was accused of appearing in “brownface” to play a gangster in The Tax Collector, and director David Ayer is responding.
In the film, LaBeouf plays a crime maestro responsible for collecting “taxes” from gangs in L.A. After the trailer was released, LaBeouf was dragged on Twitter by some who said that he was doing a form of brownface by being the only white actor in a Hispanic role in the film.
“It’s so sad we don’t have enough Chicano actors who were in the gang life for roles like this. Thank God for that little white boy stepping in and saving the day,” one user wrote.
“Oh hey, another movie w/ Latinos and Blacks in glorified gang culture on steroids that reinforces stereotypes & fears for white folks & promotes the cop mentality that ‘it’s a battlefield out there.’ Sigh…..Hollywood, come on. We don’t need this right now,” someone else noted.
Ayer saw the controversy and defended LaBeouf: “Really important answer – Shia is playing a whiteboy who grew up in the hood. This is a Jewish dude playing a white character. Also the only white dude in the movie,” adding: “I grew up hood and I’m a whiteboy. Chicano culture is inclusive – I’ve seen whiteys, Asians, Blacks, Filipinos all putting in work for the hood. It’s part of street culture.”
This comes after it was revealed that the Honey Boy star had tattooed his whole chest in order to look legit.
“He’s one of the best actors I’ve worked with, and he’s the most committed to body and soul,” the director explained. “He had a tooth pulled on Fury, and then on Tax Collector, he got his whole chest tattooed. So, he kind of goes all in, and I’ve never known anyone that committed.”
This is the latest in a long line of Hollywood controversies involving white actors taking on black or brown roles, including Johnny Depp in The Long Ranger, Kristen Dunst in The Beguiled, Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia and Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell.