Well, we were promised a Resident Evil announcement as part of Geeked Week, and it arrived – news of casting on the new live-action series was revealed, which will see Bosch star Lance Reddick taking on the role of Albert Wesker. And that was where the problems began. While the announcement also gave us more cast members in the form of Ella Balinska, Tamara Smart, Siena Agudong, Adeline Rudolph, and Paola Nu&ñez, it was the casting of Reddick that caused a wave of backlash that pretty much overtook the announcement itself.
Resident Evil was announced by Netflix back in August last year. The series is set three decades after the T-virus discovery, and will lead to the Umbrella Corporation’s dark secrets being exposed. The series will be eight episodes long, with each one coming in with an hour runtime. While the announcement then was welcomed by lovers of the original Resident Evil game series, today’s announcement didn’t grab them in quite the same way when discovering that the character of Albert Wesker, who has always been portrayed as white in the game series, is being played by Reddick.
Reddick is an amazing actor, having appeared in Bosch, Fringe and The Wire, and his persona can certainly bring something menacing to the roll of Albert Wesker, but despite that, Twitter lit up with questions over his casting in the role and how it went against everything the character has been built up to be in the game franchise.
“Not gonna give this crap show a chance, the Wesker casting is inaccurate due to racewashing. The story premise sounds stupid and it doesn’t seem it will include other key characters from the franchise. Why even call this Resident Evil?” said one user, posting a photo of Wesker as seen in the video game to emphasize their point. A second said, “How is literal white supremacist eugenicist man Albert Wesker being Black a good casting call?”, and another followed up with, “I have respect to him as the actor, just the fact they changed Wesker’s race is a tad bit racist.”
And the complaints didn’t stop there. With the announcement came a photo of the announced cast, and many were quick to question why it looked more like a fashion shoot than a promo for a violent and bloody horror series. One fan decided to re-write the show’s synopsis based on the images, coming up with “Resident Evil: Fashionistas. Follow the lives of 5 fashionistas as they kickstart the Zombie Apocalypse! Coming soon to Netflix!”. Others were just simply not impressed by the set up, one commented, “Ah yes, i remember the Resident Evil game where they all laugh together in hallway, good times. Come on, why not make a Resident Evil inspired photoshoot for the actors?” with another saying, “It looks like Raccoon City 91210 the show.”
While it is well known in the entertainment industry that you can’t please everyone all the time, it seems that you can annoy most of them in one swoop. While some will be happy to wait and see how the show turns out when it is actually made, there are plenty more who are going to be chipping away at its heels through the entire production. We will find out how it all pans out sometime late next year.