The writer of Doctor Strange denies 'whitewashing' claims over Tilda Swinton's casting

The writer of Doctor Strange has defended the film from accusations of "whitewashing" over the casting of Tilda Swinton as a traditionally Tibetan character.

The British actress plays The Ancient One in the new superhero movie - a role depicted as an elderly Tibetan man in the 1960s Marvel comics.

Writer Jon Spaihts said the film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, had to address some of the "dated" stereotypes from the original stories.

Benedict Cumberbatch and wife Sophie Hunter (Jordan Strauss/AP)
Benedict Cumberbatch and wife Sophie Hunter (Jordan Strauss/AP)

Speaking at the film's world premiere in Los Angeles, Jon also denied that concerns about upsetting the Chinese market had resulted in Tilda's casting - a suggestion previously made by fellow screenwriter C Robert Cargill.

Jon told the Press Association: "We were wrestling with the fact that some of the core characters of the Doctor Strange mythos were created in the early 60s and they are dated.

"They represent, to some extent, stereotypes which we had to find ways to freshen up.

"The Ancient One we've reinvented as a woman, a woman of Western extraction in this film.

"I will say there's almost a Tilda Swinton exemption because I think she could play any role she wants. I think she's sublime in this film. One of the best actors living."

Star Trek actor George Takei was among the critics of Swinton's casting as The Ancient One after her role was revealed earlier this year.

George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek, during a press conference to launch Destination Star Trek Europe at The NEC in Birmingham.
George Takei (Joe Giddens/PA)

He wrote on Facebook in April: "They cast Tilda because they believe white audiences want to see white faces."

One of the stars of Doctor Strange said he believed the film "rights the wrongs" of the stereotypes depicted in the original stories.

British actor Benedict Wong said his character, Master Wong, was originally portrayed as a "tea-making manservant" in the comic books.

Benedict Wong (Chris Pizzello AP)
Benedict Wong (Chris Pizzello AP)

"We're really changing it for a Wong for our times," he said.

"I feel and I hope the audiences will see that it's a refreshing take."

Doctor Strange is released in UK cinemas on Tuesday.

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