16 White Actors Miscast in Nonwhite Roles, From Mickey Rooney to Emma Stone (Photos)

Rooney as Japanese? Stone as Chinese/Swedish/Hawaiian? TheWrap looks at history of racially misguided castings


Katharine Hepburn in “Dragon Seed” (1944)  Caucasian Hepburn played a Chinese woman in this big-screen adaptation of the Pearl S. Buck novel. 

Marlon Brando in “The Teahouse of the August Moon” (1956)  Brando starred as an Okinawan translator for the U.S. Army in this comedy about the American occupation of the island nation.

John Wayne in “Conquerer” (1956)  Wayne was cast as Mongol conquerer Genghis Khan in what’s considered by many to be one of the worst films of all time.

Charlton Heston in “Touch of Evil” (1958)  Heston starred as Ramon Miguel Vargas in the 1958 crime film, a Mexican narcotics officer.

Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)  More caricature than character, Rooney starred as the buck-toothed, Japanese Mr. Yunioshi in the 1961 film, which has faced volumes of criticism since.

Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” (1961)  Wood plays a Puerto Rican teenager in the 1961 musical film, although she was Russian-American in real life. 

Laurence Olivier in “Othello” (1965)  Not only did the white actor play a Moor in 1965’s “Othello,” he did so while wearing blackface.

Al Pacino in “Scarface” (1983)  Pacino plays a Cuban gangster in the 1983 film, and many criticized his over-the-top accent as offensive.

Anthony Hopkins in “Mask of Zorro” (1998)  Welsh actor Hopkins starred as the Spanish Zorro, a.k.a. Don Diego de la Vega, in the 1998 film. 

Rob Schneider in “50 First Dates” (2004)  Schneider seems to play a different ethnicity in every Adam Sandler movie. In “The Waterboy” he was the “You can do it!” guy, in “Big Daddy,” he was a Middle-Eastern deliveryman, and in “50 First Dates,” he plays a native Hawaiian. Badly.

Mike Myers in “The Love Guru” (2008)  Myers played an Indian-American guru in the roundly panned movie, in which he dressed up a lot of racist jokes in a terrible accent.See Video: Mike Myers Was ‘Super Proud’ Standing Next to Kanye West When He Dissed George W. Bush

Every character from “21” (2008)  The movie follows a group of math students who come up with a card counting strategy to win big in Vegas. While the movie had a predominantly white cast, the real life MIT students were all Asian-American.

Jake Gyllenhaal in “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” (2010)  Gyllenhaal plays a Middle-Eastern prince in the film, which many called “insulting” and “the perfect example of whitewashing.”Also Read: Jake Gyllenhaal in Talks to Join Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘The Current War’

Johnny Depp in “Lone Ranger” (2013)  Like Mara, Johnny Depp played a Native American in Disney’s film, which sparked outrage among fans and critics despite the actor’s claims that his great-grandmother had mostly Cherokee blood. Also Read: Disney CFO: ‘Lone Ranger’ Flop Shows Non-Franchise Movies Need to Cost Less

Rooney Mara in “Pan” (2015)  Mara was cast as Tiger Lily, a Native American, in the 2015 film based on the Peter Pan story.Also Read: Rooney Mara in Negotiations to Play Tiger Lily in Warner Bros.’ ‘Pan’

Emma Stone in “Aloha” (2015)  Stone played a Chinese/Swedish/Hawaiian woman in this critically and commercially disappointing Cameron Crowe romantic comedy.Also Read: Cameron Crowe Apologizes for Emma Stone’s Asian ‘Aloha’ Character: ‘Was Based on a Real-Life, Red-Head Local’
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