Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, based on Ransom Riggs’ 2011 best-seller of the same name, tells the story of an orphanage for supernaturally gifted children, and features a large ensemble cast of both children and adults.
However, the stars are mostly white, with African-American actor Samuel L. Jackson’s Barron, the film’s villain, being the only notable exception.
When questioned in an interview with America’s Bustle magazine about why he had not cast any non-white actors in roles, Burton responded by saying that in his opinion being “politically correct” can have a negative impact on television shows and films.
“Nowadays, people are talking about it (diversity in films) more,” he said. “Things either call for things, or they don’t. I remember back when I was a child watching (TV show) The Brady Bunch and they started to get all politically correct. Like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black. I used to get more offended by that.”
The 58-year-old director then cited the ‘blaxploitation’ films of the 1970s, such as Shaft and Foxy Brown, as examples of movies which didn’t feature many white actors.
He explained, “I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that’s great. I didn’t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.” Also speaking to Bustle, Samuel L. Jackson admitted it was quite a rare for Burton to cast non-white actors in his films, but defended the Sleepy Hollow director against his critics.
“I had to go back in my head and go, how many black characters have been in Tim Burton movies?” Jackson said. “And I may have been the first, I don’t know, or the most prominent in that particular way, but it happens the way it happens. I don’t think it’s any fault of his or his method of storytelling, it’s just how it’s played out. Tim’s a really great guy.”
Diversity is currently a hot topic in Hollywood, with the #OscarsSoWhite campaign kicking off at the beginning of the year after no black or minority actors received nominations for the 2016 Oscars, for the second year in a row.
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