UPDATE: ‘The Hobbit’ Extra Rejected Because of Race

A woman is told that she is ’too-dark’ to appear as one of Tolkien’s pint-sized creatures in Peter Jackson’s prequel.

The Hobbit casting agents accused of racism
The Hobbit casting agents accused of racism
UPDATE: 11/29/10 14:18 PM PST According to The New York Times, the casting director responsible for turning Naz Humphreys away from The Hobbit casting sessions for being 'too dark-skinned' has been fired. Wingnut Films has released the following statement about the casting agent, who was videotaped as saying that only 'light-skinned' actors were being considered for the movie:

"No such instructions were given. The crew member in question took it upon themselves to do that and it's not something we instructed or condoned."

Original story: Though Peter Jackson's upcoming prequel The Hobbit is finally on the right track and nearing production, it still can't shake its long run of bad luck. After severe financial problems, a fire that ravaged its production stages, a well-publicized actors' strike, and numerous other hiccups, ABC News is now reporting that the movie's casting agents are being accused of racism.

British actress Naz Humphreys, who is of Pakistani decent, claims that she waited for three hours at The Hobbit casting session being held in the New Zealand city of Hamilton last week, only to be told that her skin was too dark and not suitable for the role of a Hobbit. The casting director went onto tell her that they were only casting pale-skinned actors for the numerous parts available, and was quoted as saying, "We are looking for light-skinned people. I'm not trying to be...Whatever. It's just the brief. You've got to look like a hobbit."

This has caused quite a bit of controversy, with both sides of the issue giving their reasons for why the decision is right and wrong. While some see no problem whatsoever with casting according to what has come before in the franchise, Humphreys stated, "It's 2010 and I still can't believe I'm being discriminated against because I have brown skin. I would love to be an extra. But it just seemed like a shame because obviously hobbits are not brown or black or any other color. They all look kind of homogenized beige and all derived from the Caucasian gene pool."

A spokesman for Peter Jackson, who said the director was unaware of the restriction, called it "an incredibly unfortunate error". They went onto say, "It is not something the producers or the director of The Hobbit were aware of. They would never issue instructions of this kind to the casting crew. All people meeting the age and height requirements are welcome to audition."

We'll soon see if there are any dark-skinned Hobbits in the Shire, as The Hobbit is scheduled to begin shooting in 3D this coming February.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released December 14th, 2012 and stars Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter. The film is directed by Peter Jackson.

Sources: ABC News

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Comments (94)

  1. Slag469

    If Jackson had cast all hobbits as darkskinned pakistanis, then I would be complaining about the lone white actor that would look out of place. Consistency is what I desire. And yes, I have read every Tolkien book ever published...including the Lost and Unfinished tales, Simarillion, etc.

    Newbie? To what? Shall I defer to your vast experience as a veteran commentator? I find it funny that you keep referring to an obscure out of focus walk-by...does that mean you would object to a full leading role? And the only thing I'm "offended" by, is that the casting director who was excercising common sense was discharged by her knee jerk boss.

    A job maybe, doubtful she lost her career. But even so, this is the bizarro world we live in today. Much like the story of an English toy company pulling the pig out of it's toy farms because some muslim complained.

    4 years agoby @slag469Flag

  2. TheMime

    Well, after all this..... still, a person lost a career out of what seems to be a simple "you-can-go-and-f*ken-ask-to-confirm" misunderstanding and one gets the chance to gain some attention...

    4 years agoby @themimeFlag

  3. slysnide

    @Slag469: I was talking about the notion. Granted she shouldn't be automatically given the role cuz of race. Nobody said that. But the fact that you'd be offended if a dark hobbit walked by out of focus with no dialogue or impact of the story means your delusion is beyond repair. To care about something so trivial? I mean really? I thought the majority of us weren't this stupid to give a sh*t about such lackluster things. But I guess the newbies can always prove us wrong. ;)

    4 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  4. Josh

    The fact you're pulling out phrases like "classic ACLU card carrying self-hating white guy" and "denouncing the injustices of common sense" makes you sound like you're parroting Glenn Beck. 'Merica, F*ck Yeah!, right?

    Have you even read Tolkein? The guy himself describes hobbits as having brown skin and brown hair. Just because Peter Jackson gave the world an image of the hobbit doesn't mean that's the definitive one.

    The fact that there are hobbits in the films with different colored eyes and different colored hair is proof that genetic variation exists in Middle Earth.

    4 years agoby @shuabertFlag

  5. Slag469

    Sly, I'm glad you're so color blind that you demand quotas; I hope affirmative action worked out for you. As for myself, its the right fit for the job...and when portraying a race and its society, the look of the actor is just as important as the dialog, the behavior and the acting itself; F appeasement.

    In this case, there are no dark Hobbits that migrated to the Shire from equatorial regions (African Hobbits).

    And Slag? Yes...I have a bald spotted head and come from the planet Tencton. Thank you.

    4 years agoby @slag469Flag

  6. slysnide

    @Slag469: hmm, mystery confirmed. You're so offended by the most minor of alterations to a literal background character that you go off on a tirade about it. God forbid they look dark. Oh wait, I guess you forbid it. PS: Are you a real slag? Cause that term typically has very negative connotations. :P

    4 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  7. Slag469

    Josh, you of course seem to be the classic ACLU card carrying, self hating white guy who spends the major part of a day looking for racists behind every bush and denouncing the injustices of common sense. Do you have kids? I'll bet you told em not to salute the flag.

    One more time people...Mongols are Asian, Zulus are Black and Hobbits are White... Get over it and cast the appropriate actors. Thank you.

    4 years agoby @slag469Flag

  8. Slag469

    Slysnide...Apparently your lack of intelligence caused you to miss the main point. THERE ARE NO DARKER HOBBITS! Its a homogenous race, you moron. Once again, liberal thinking dictates that there has to be a rainbow coalition everywhere you look. How touchy feelie.

    4 years agoby @slag469Flag

  9. JasonKat

    when i 1st saw the lil display in the main window, i thought that was micheal jackson's character top pick for a thriller horror movie. lol

    4 years agoby @jasonkatFlag

  10. Josh

    I don't necessarily believe the studio's statement, but as there's no way to prove the truth of the situation it doesn't really matter. If the studio is trying to cover their asses, then it's even worse, because it's a sign of systemic discrimination instead of just one person.

    Also, I'm a heterosexual white male. The fact that you assume I'm minority just because I recognize when one is being discriminated against betrays your own prejudices. Good on you.

    4 years agoby @shuabertFlag

  11. the Narrator

    @Josh, simpleton? Just because hobbits are never specifically called Caucasian, it doesn't mean that's not what Tolkien imagined they'd be. Overall, I could care less is a dark skinned hobbit was seen in the very background of the project. However, the casting director simply saw that she did not match up with what she believed the film was looking for. Simple mistake, one most LotR fans would make.

    And me? A simpleton? Says the guy who actually believes the studio's statement. In all reality they probably said that to save them from any further heat, seeing as how this film has received a lot of trouble lately. If anyone's a simpleton here, it's you, jumping at a chance to side with a minority, simply because you are one.

    4 years agoby @narratorFlag

  12. SupermanEmpire

    "Say what again you hairy footed motha f*cka!"

    4 years agoby @supermanempireFlag

  13. Blackmamba69

    This is good news maybe now pale hobbits can now audition to play kuntakente in the roots remake

    4 years agoby @blackmamba69Flag

  14. nerblesmcgee

    is that Froddo's father? oh no wait it's jus samuel jackson. f*ck! he is in every movie it seems

    4 years agoby @nerblesmcgeeFlag

  15. Dan

    @fanboy I disagree. I want to see Samuel Jackson as a Hobbit :P

    4 years agoby @dan1Flag

  16. fanboy

    Racism? please, no one wants to see a black hobbit.

    4 years agoby @fanboyFlag

  17. Josh

    @the_narrator: Yes, it's BY DEFINITION, discrimination, which "involves excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to other groups".
    Unless there was specific instructions that the character she was applying for was supposed to be caucasian (which the official statement is, there were not), then she was discriminated against.

    There sure are a lot of simpletons on this site.

    4 years agoby @shuabertFlag

  18. the Narrator

    @Sly, what's wrong with a little authenticity. Seriously, this lady is blowing this thing way out of proportion. The next time I get shut down from a job opening, should I claim it's racism? No, because I'm just not QUALIFIED for what they want, and neither was this lady. There's plenty of openings in the world for me, just like there are plenty of openings in the world for her.

    4 years agoby @narratorFlag

  19. the Narrator

    Discrimination? Are you kidding me @Josh? No, the casting director did what she believed was logical and right, and I would have done the same thing... and I'm a quarter fillipino. No discrimination was involved here because he didn't deny her in a prejudice/negative way. He simply said that they were looking for light skinned folk. Getting fired over such an innocent mistake is ridiculous and the studios just want to save face because of how much heat the films gotten already. the person to blame is the girl, for trying out in a film that she knows requires white/light skinned folk. Anyone who's seen even one of the films can tell that right off the bat. Her foul!

    4 years agoby @narratorFlag

  20. alexpj19

    hey why not George Clooney play Martin Luther King Jr. ? what do you think, ... what ? No way? Are you a racist ? Get some f*cking sence people, if the character is white he should be played by the white actor, if he is black than black actor, if he is asian than by asian actor.

    4 years agoby @alexpj19Flag

  21. slysnide

    @Slag469: So you fall into the slough of retards who actually are offended by the idea of a darker looking hobbit wandering by outta focus in the frame? Jeez, yet another in need of extreme mental growth. :P

    4 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  22. Slag469

    Oh boo hoo... F diversity and F this multicultralistic trash. Why do we have to have ALL races on every planet? What's next, Chinese Dwarves? This chick went down to the studio to make a statement. She obviously saw the LOTR movies and knows that the Hobbits are all white actors; modeled after much of what Tolkien took from British society. Being Pakistani, I wouldn't be surprised if her next complaint is that the Hobbits aren't muslim.

    Grow some balls Peter Jackson and state your casting requirements. Can't wait to see what's next from our "culturally enriched" society. I know, how about Eleanor Roosevelt cast as a lebian hooker from Kenya; did I cover all bases there?

    4 years agoby @slag469Flag

  23. jameslev

    the pussification of america...

    4 years agoby @jameslevFlag

  24. WongFu

    That picture looks a lot like Sam Jackson. the plane, the plane... boss

    4 years agoby @instead8909Flag

  25. A7sus4


    4 years agoby @a7sus4Flag

  26. Tyler Andrew Crouch

    all i have to say is people who think this is racism are dumb. listen when people cast a movie they look for specific people THEY want in there film. for instance to Tyler Perry he primarily casts african americans in his films. is that considered racism if a white person wants to be in the film but they said they are looking for african americans? so all i have to say about this whole thing is GET OVER IT! its how everything is always gonna be people are going to look for what they want in hiring someone.

    4 years agoby @tyler-andrew-crouchFlag

  27. Jay.A.Ottley

    But wait the casting sheet actually stated in its description they were looking for white actors and actresses between specific height requirements.

    So technically there is no racism, involved here and anyone that believes that or sees that, then you can go get hit by a parked car, cause obviously your that stupid and ignorant.

    4 years agoby @jayaottleyFlag

  28. T.Clark

    The casting director was probably just a hardcore fan of the books and a traditionalist when it comes to Tokein's work. I doubt race had anything to do with it, and I haven't read the books, but if hobbits are white, then...he obviously thought they should remain white lol Firing him wasn't the answer, and I'd bet money it wasn't because the casting director disobeyed their "wishes," but only so they wouldn't get sued.

    4 years agoby @insertusernamehereFlag

  29. JasonKat

    The same thing or sumthing like that happened in " Tropic Thunder" when they turned robert downey jr into a blk guy. sumbody didnt aprove of such thing but later production went on. I think the term 'dark-skinned" is stupid if ur black ur black. i dont think we need to start calling people "white-skinned or dark skinned, Sum people need to chill out and take a chill pill. have u noticed that when a white person gets confronted w such a thing, they dont really care, but when a blk person gets confronted, ihe goes on CNN NEWS or makes it all a big deal and wants to go on strike, lol SORRY but this isnt the 40s-50 anymore, we'r in 2010 and this is america, ALL SKIN COLORED people have the right to free-speech and u shouldnt care or get afended if u get rejected for watever reason.

    4 years agoby @jasonkatFlag

  30. Cartman

    why are ppl making small things a big mess,... i mean not everyone are brad pitt or angelina jolie,.. der r dark skinned, bright skinned, brown skinned ppl everywer. We dont make a big mess of anyone with der hair color(blonde, black, red..) or eye color(blue, brown, black, green,..),, why only skin? change your attitude,...

    4 years agoby @c-a-r-t-m-a-nFlag

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