Speaking to his decision to race-swap iconic villain Albert Wesker in Netflix’s upcoming Resident Evil series, showrunner Andrew Dabb has argued that live-action adaptations of other media are “limiting” themselves by casting based on character accuracy to a given source material.
Based on Capcom’s horror video game series of the same name and unrelated to either the previous Paul W.S. Anderson film series or 2021’s Welcome To Racoon, Netflix’s upcoming Resident Evil “will feature a new original story in two timelines.”
“The first timeline begins when 14-year-old sisters Jade Wesker and Billy Wesker move to New Raccoon City,” explains Capcom (via machine translation provided by DeepL). “The Wesker sisters enjoy their youth in the wonderful man-made corporate city of New Raccoon City, but they gradually begin to realize the reality of the city and suspect that their father is hiding something. Little do they know that it is a dangerous secret that will lead the world to ruin…”
“The second timeline is a future world more than 10 years later,” the company continues. “The number of human beings on the earth is now less than 15 million, and the T-virus has turned the Earth into a monster of more than 6 billion people and animals. In this new world, Jade, now 30 years old, fights for survival, but is also tormented by the secrets of her past surrounding her sister, her father, and herself.”
Audiences were given their first look at the live-action series, which will star Lance Reddick (John Wick series) as Albert Wesker and Ella Balinska (Charlie’s Angels (2019)) as his daughter in the future timeline, with the release of its first teaser trailer on May 12th.
That same day, Entertainment Weekly published an interview with Dabb, recounting an earlier conversation they held with the showrunner during an earlier Resident Evil media press event held in April.
Asked by a journalist at the event for insight into his decision to race-swap Wesker with Reddick’s casting, Dabb replied, “If you know the games, Wesker is dead. He got blown up by a rocket launcher in a volcano [at the end of Resident Evil 5].”
“The games are our backstory,” he added. “So, everything in the games exists in this world. So, how is Wesker alive now? I will say stay tuned and the answer is not like, ‘He’s immune to lava.'”
Dabb further asserted, “I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say the explanation for why Wesker is the way that he is and how he is still alive go hand in hand.”
As for the specific choice to cast Reddick, Dabb posited to the crowd, “I think when you are casting in the modern day and age, if you are limiting yourself based on, ‘Well, this character is blonde, so we gotta look at blonde actors,’ you’re gonna find yourself in a bad position.”
“When Lance was interested in doing the part, you’re not gonna find anybody better than him to play this character — both the dad part of the character and also the more corporate killer part,” he defended. “At that point, you’re making the show weaker by going with someone that may be more aesthetically a match to the game.”
“So, why would you weaken a show like that?” Dabb asked in conclusion. “It makes no sense to me, and luckily Netflix and Constantin [Film] as well were very much on board with that. The goal here is to do the strongest show.”
The eight-episode Resident Evil is set to debut on Netflix on July 14th.
What do you make of Dabb’s justification for race-swapping Wesker? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!