Gemma Chan opens up about her colourblind casting in 'Mary Queen of Scots'

Gemma Chan has reflected upon her colourblind casting as Bess of Hardwick in 2018's "Mary Queen of Scots" and the actor believes "art should reflect life now".

The actor said her bid as British monarch Queen Elizabeth I adviser, a Caucasian woman, in the Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie-fronted film generated some controversy among social media trolls.

Colourblind or nontraditional casting is defined as the casting of ethnic minority actors in roles where race, ethnicity, or gender is not germane.

"Why are actors of colour, who have fewer opportunities anyway, only allowed to play their own race? And sometimes they're not even allowed to play their own race.

"In the past, the role would be given to a white actor who would tape up their eyes and do the role in yellowface. John Wayne played Genghis Khan. If John Wayne can play Genghis Khan, I can play Bess of Hardwick," the actor told Allure magazine in an interview.

Chan, who is also a stage actor, talked about theatre's impact on diversifying casts for historical stories set in Europe or North America, which traditionally and predominately highlight white characters.

"I feel like 'Hamilton' opened minds a lot. We have a black man playing George Washington. They describe it as 'America then, told by America now.' And I think our art should reflect life now," she said.

The colourblind casting in the period drama was spearheaded by filmmaker Josie Rourke, a film and theatre director who previously headed up the all-female production of Julius Caesar at London's Donmar Warehouse in 2012.

Rourke, in an interview last December, said that her casting choices on the film stemmed from her theatre experience, where colourblind casting is far more common than in Hollywood.

Besides Chan, Adrian Derrick-Palmer portrayed English courier George Dalgleish and Ismael Cruz-Cordova played David Rizzio, the secretary to Mary in the film.

Chan's recent cinematic outing was "Captain Marvel" in which she played the blue-skinned Kree alien race sniper Min-Nerva.