After the Emma Stone in Aloha mess, and the ScarJo in Ghost in the Shell mess, and the Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange mess, you’d think that maybe Hollywood would know that doing whitewashing shit, especially with a real person, is a bad move. But here we are. Deadline says that Zach McGowan, who is apparently of Irish and Jewish descent, has been cast as real-life Native Hawaiian leader Benehakaka “Ben” Kanahele in a WWII biopic called Ni’ihau.
For comparison, Zach looks like the picture above and Ben Kanahele looked like this:
Practically, twins I know.
Zach is also executive producing Ni’ihau and shooting starts later this month in Malaysia. Deadline explains the movie like this:
Ni’ihau is based on a true story set during WWII when Shigenori Nishikaichi, an Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service pilot, crash-landed his Zero on the eponymous Hawaiian island after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor. McGowan will play Ben Kanahele, an island leader who saves Nishikaichi before learning his part in the attack. When the circumstances became apparent, Nishikaichi was apprehended but received assistance from locals, taking hostages and attempting to overcome his captors. Kanahele ultimately killed Nishikaichi and was decorated for his part in stopping the takeover.
The Ni’ihau Incident led to President Franklin D Roosevelt issuing Executive Order 9066, which directly led to the mass internment of 119,803 Japanese-American men, women and children until the end of the war. The film is about the incident itself, which was seen to be the catalyst of fear that spurred Roosevelt’s decree. In 1976, President Gerald Ford rescinded Executive Order 9066.
Ni’ihau will be directed by Gabriel Robertson and he’s making his feature directorial debut with this mess. Because this movie stars an actor most of us haven’t heard of and is directed by a newbie, this could be a shameless stunt to get attention. Even if it is, I expect Zach McGowan to call Margaret Cho and I’m sure their conversation will go down like this:
Margaret: President of All Asians: American Division, here.
Zach: Hello, Asian President Margaret, my name is Zach McGowan. I’m an actor from Black Sails and Shameless and I am now getting shit for taking the role of Ben Kanahele in a movie. Can you please talk to the Asians and tell them to stop?
Margaret: Oh honey, you need the President of All Polynesians: American Division. Let me transfer you to Jason Momoa. Please hold.
And here’s Zach and his wife Emily Johnson at the Hollywood premiere of King Arthur last night. If Hollywood was making a biopic about a longtime Scott Stapp impersonator who got plastic surgery to try to look like Bradley Cooper, Zach would be perfect.