The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

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    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "Black Hawk Down"

    The Somalia-set military thriller features no Somali actors -- odd, given that it depicts a military action against the government of that nation. Two Somali characters were played by British performers, and a third was portrayed by a Nigerian actor.

    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "Cloud Atlas"

    The century-spanning pastiche of styles and nations was hailed for its remarkable makeup. But there was something extremely discomfiting about seeing white actors portray Korean characters (that picture's of Jim Sturgess, a British actor), or Korean actors portray whites, or -- sigh -- Hugh Grant playing a "Kona chief." The film's themes of eternal return came to be subsumed by distracting accent and makeup play.

    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "Iron Man 3"

    Ben Kingsley, the British actor who once won an Oscar for playing Mahatma Gandhi, played the Mandarin, a supervillain who's portrayed in the Iron Man comics as Chinese. The movie changed his origin around but didn't change the Orientalist visual signifiers all over him.

    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "The Lone Ranger"

    Johnny Depp, who has said that he believes he's part-Native American, played the role of Tonto in this year's "Lone Ranger" remake -- a role played by a Native American actor on television. Depp may be part-Native American, but he's white, too, and the optics of a white actor taking on a silly, stereotypical role were not great.

    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "The Love Guru"

    Mike Myers, who appeared in a Vanity Fair photo spread depicting him in traditional Hindu garb years before, played a thickly accented South Asian "guru" in this flop; his career hasn't recovered.

    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "Memoirs of a Geisha"

    This film, depicting Japanese culture and tradition, starred two Chinese actresses and a Malaysian actress. Perhaps the differences between Asian cultures were lost on the director, American Rob Marshall.

    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time"

    Jake Gyllenhaal is gifted enough to pull off many sorts of roles. Persian Prince maybe isn't one!

    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "Selena"

    This film engendered some protest early on for having cast Jennifer Lopez, a Puerto Rican actress, as one of the most iconic Mexican stars ever, though it ended up working out in some ways -- she was nominated for a Golden Globe and was, for a time, the most prominent Latina actress out there.

    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "United 93"

    Omar Berdouni, who played one of the Saudi hijackers who presumably tried to destroy the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 11, 2001, is in fact a British-Moroccan actor; he also played a Saudi prince in "The Kingdom."

    The most racially tone-deaf casting decisions ever

    "You Don't Mess With the Zohan"

    Supporting player Rob Schneider has an unfortunate history with race caricatures in Adam Sandler films; in this one, he plays a Palestinian taxi driver. He plays an Indian man in "Bedtime Stories" and someone called "Prince Habeeboo" in "Click."

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Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_

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