Game of Thrones‘ seventh season might have just started, but that hasn’t stopped the HBO mega-hit from coming under fire. In a new interview, Star Wars star John Boyega has criticized the show’s diversity problem.
The actor, who is promoting the release of his new movie Detroit, made the comments about Thrones while chatting to GQ about the response he received when news emerged that he was going to star in The Force Awakens.
Continuing, he said, “I ain’t paying money to always see one type of person on-screen. Because you see different people from different backgrounds, different cultures, every day. Even if you’re a racist, you have to live with that. We can ruffle up some feathers.”
Game of Thrones has been criticized before for its apparent lack of racial inclusivity. However, John Boyega’s comments come just days after GoT casting director Nina Gold said that she didn’t think the show had a diversity problem.
“Even though these are fantasy worlds, there are tribes, families, and dynasties. Once you’ve put one mark on the canvas for the Targaryens or the Starks, you really owe it to the, oh I can’t think of the word, but the authenticity of trying to make them a family somehow,” she explained to Vanity Fair. “In the books, the Targaryens are these white, white people with silver hair and violet eyes. The Starks are kind of rough, like Northern English people. The Lannisters are golden, aren’t they? We really believed we were doing it like the books, basically.”
She also said that she didn’t “know what to really say about it because it’s not like there’s no diversity in the casting in Game of Thrones.”
“We’ve turned Grey Worm and Missandei into really deep characters,” Gold — who was actually involved in the casting for the new diverse Star Wars movies — added. “I really do believe in diversity in casting, and always have done. I don’t feel I have to defend it, really.”
As Refinery29 also point out, the lack of diversity in GoT is also something that the author of the book series on which the show is based, George. R.R. Martin, has agreed is a problem in his own work.
“Westeros around 300 AC is nowhere near as diverse as 21st century America, of course…but with that being said, I do have some ‘characters of color’ who will have somewhat larger roles in WINDS OF WINTER,” Martin said in a blog post. “Admittedly, these are secondary and tertiary characters, though not without importance.”
Unfortunately, diversity and representation in the media still needs a lot of work, despite the proven success of inclusive media. And while we do enjoy Game of Thrones, we have to agree with John Boyega: more can be done to make the show more inclusive.