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Tilda Swinton Had a Conversation With Margaret Cho About the ‘Doctor Strange’ Whitewashing Controversy

Cho explains how they had a "long fight about why the part should not have gone to her."

Margaret Cho Tilda Swinton


UPDATE: Tilda Swinton’s representatives released the actress’ email exchanges with Margaret Cho after the comedian spoke out about their conversation they had regarding the “Doctor Strange” whitewashing controversy.

According to Vanity Fair, their exchange was five emails in total, click here to read them.

READ MORE: Why ‘Doctor Strange’ Star Tilda Swinton Wanted to Do a Superhero Movie

Back in May, Margaret Cho led the #WhitewashedOUT discussion against Hollywood whitewashing Asian characters, and failing to represent the community after Tilda Swinton was cast as the Ancient One in “Doctor Strange” and Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell.”

While Marvel stated that Swinton’s character was “Celtic,” not Tibetan like in the comics, it angered many people including George Takei who took to Facebook to refute the studio’s justifications. Now (via Vulture), Cho revealed on Bobby Lee’s podcast “TigerBelly” that Swinton personally called her to discuss the controversy in private.

The “A Bigger Splash” actress contacted Cho via Alex Borstein, known for her “MADtv” Asian-esque character Ms. Swan, who asked Cho if she could give Tilda her number. “She hooked us up. Which is the most ironic,” Cho said.

“Tilda eventually emailed me and she said that she didn’t understand why people were so mad about ‘Doctor Strange’ and she wanted to talk about it, and wanted to get my take on why all the Asian people were mad,” Cho revealed. “It was so weird,” she stated, adding that Swinton told her not to “tell anybody.”

READ MORE: Tilda Swinton Addresses ‘Doctor Strange’ Whitewashing Controversy and Marvel’s Commitment to Diversity

“It was a long fight about why the part should not have gone to her. That’s what I thought: The part should not have gone to her,” she continued. “We’d fight about it and basically it ended with her saying, ‘Well I’m producing a movie and Steven Yeun is starring'” – referencing Bong Joon-Ho’s upcoming film “Okja.”

Since the first “Doctor Strange” trailer was released, Swinton has defended the film, explaining that the Ancient One role was never written as a Tibetan man and how the movie comes from a “very diverse place.” During all her interviews she also urged people to see the film before criticizing it.

READ MORE: ‘Doctor Strange’ Star Tilda Swinton Says Film Comes from ‘a Very Diverse Place’

Cho’s conversation with Lee continued with the comedian expressing that she had a weird feeling during the entire conversation.

“It was weird because I felt like a house Asian, like I’m her servant. Like the ones when they have in the raj, they would have the house servant who was your confidante … The servant that was close to you,” Cho said. “That’s sort of what I felt like, like I was following her with an umbrella. I had a weird feeling about the entire exchange, especially the part of ‘Don’t tell anybody.’”

Listen to Cho and Bobby’s entire podcast, here.

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