This past Monday, on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, on the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration, I discovered that the casting of the four leading characters for the upcoming live-action movie, The Last Airbender (based on the TV show, Avatar: The Last Airbender) had gone entirely to white actors. I want—no, need—to say something about this.
Following Jackson Rathbone’s footstep in addressing fans’ criticism over The Last Airbender casting, pop singer Jesse McCartney comes to MTV to share his response towards fans’ protest of the “all Caucasian” [sic] casting. The 21-year-old who is tapped for Prince Zuko part tries to assure hard core fans of the animated TV series that he will do his best to do justice for his character.
“I heard a lot about this online,” the singer who fills the voice of Theodore in Alvin and the Chipmunks explains. “There’s a lot of hard-core fans out there [who] probably know more about it… I’m still learning. This is M. Night’s vision and this is what he wants. To all the fans, I can tell you I’m putting my best foot forward.” He further adds, “I’ve been in kung-fu training for the last month and half-learning all the moves. I’m looking forward to it.”
The casting controversy came out after reports surfaced that karate-trained Texan Noah Ringer, Twilight actor Jackson Rathbone, Deck the Halls actress Nicola Peltz and singer Jesse McCartney have been offered the roles of Aang, Sokka, Katara and Zuko respectively. The casting of the four Caucasian actors brought out negative reaction from fans with accusations of racism.
Earlier, Rathbone has responded to the complaints, stating that it is his chance to show his range of acting. Speaking to MTV, he added on what he will need to do for Sokka’s transformation, “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan. It’s one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit.”
—“Jesse McCartney Answers The Last Airbender Casting Criticism,” ACESHOWBIZ.com