Lucifer and The Librarians actress Lesley-Ann Brandt inadvertently exposed Hollywood’s merit-based narrative.
This narrative is pushed by the likes of Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige. He recently pushed the narrative while talking about the casting for the upcoming Fantastic Four film.
He told ComicBook.com, “I think the MCU is a beautiful combination of both (established actors and new faces). “I think you look no further than Simu in Shang-Chi, like Chris Hemsworth, like Tom Hiddleston, like Tom Holland, an actor that hadn’t been seen by a tremendous amount of people before, or you have a Benedict stepping into Doctor Strange or Christian Bale stepping into Gor in our Thor film.”
“It is always a beautiful combination of both, and it really is about the search for the best actor for the job whether that actor is known to the world yet or not,” Feige added.
Brandt exposed this narrative when she took to Twitter to wish her manager Matt Luber happy birthday.
The actress tweeted, “H/wood is not a meritocracy so you better get yourself a good team. I am thankful to have this man as my manager. Realist of the real, decent to his core, always grinding. Happy Birthday to my friend Matt Luber. Here’s to many more.”
Feige himself exposed the narrative when he addressed the massive amounts of race and gender swapping in the upcoming Eternals film.
Back in April, Variety asked Feige, “Eternals expands the MCU in terms of representation, with its large international cast, its first LGBTQ superhero — I know some of those things are baked into the Eternals, but how many of those expansive ideas came from Chloé?”
He responded, “Well, the notion of switching up the genders, sexualities and ethnicities of the characters from the comics, was baked in initially — that was part of what Nate Moore was really advocating for in moving “Eternals” to the top of the list for us to start working on.”
“What exactly the makeup was between when Nate put together his internal discussion document, which is how we always start on all of our projects, and what she came in and did, I don’t recall exactly,” Feige added.
He then specifically discussed the casting, “When it came to casting, that also did affect it. There were some characters that we change from male to female, there were some characters that we knew how we were altering them from the books. But then also it came down to casting.”
Feige continued, “So for Sersi, for instance — and if there was a lead in this ensemble, it is Sersi, it is Gemma Chan — we looked at and read all sorts of women for that part. And ended up really believing that Gemma was best for it. And thankfully, she’s proven that to be the case in the final movie.”
He concluded, “So, of course, Chloé was a big part of that decision, and of every casting decision. Some of it was done beforehand, and that continued once she was on board as director.”
That’s right they had made casting decisions before director Chloe Zhao was even brought in. And Feige also made it clear that they had already planned to swapping the genders, sexualities, and ethnicities of the characters from the get go.
So, it’s probably safe to assume they didn’t look at certain people for certain roles given they didn’t fit what they wanted for those characters.
Brandt and Feige’s words echo what YouTuber Eric July has been saying for a long time.
Back in June, July specifically called out actors who take on race and gender swapped roles saying “these guys have no absolutely no integrity.”
However, July also noted that when Hollywood does casting it’s not merit-based and the Hollywood producers usually already have actors in mind for the characters they plan to put on the big screen.
July said, “If these black actors and actresses ad actual integrity. For one, they wouldn’t even try out for these gigs because you do understand Hollywood, they have people in mind, and they have certain attributes that they want the person…”
“What I’m saying is there is no such thing as a tokenization, and even the Kevin Feiges of the world have basically admitted all of this. But there’s no such thing as a tokenization by way of the best actor or the actress getting the job. That doesn’t happen,” he stated.
He elaborated, “Which is why nowadays when you see it happen, they spin all the campaign trail of the actual film, promotional videos or show, all that sort of stuff they lead with that. Like, ‘Oh well look at this you need to mention if you’re going to cover this, Variety, we are going to give you this exclusive scoop. Here, make sure you mention the fact that they’re black.’”
“Every tokenization is something that is purposeful. They do that. It’s not an accident. It’s not an open casting. It’s not something like that,” he asserted.
What do you make of Brandt revealing there is no meritocracy in Hollywood?