Joe Wright’s Peter Pan origin story starring Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard and Garret Hedlund as Hook has potentially found its Tiger Lilly. If negotiations work out, the iconic role of the young Native American princess will be played by none other than Irish-Italian actress Rooney Mara. The film is being billed as a “new take on the classic story,” and in this case, that “new take” extends the old tale of Hollywood whitewashing characters of color. (Recently, Johnny Depp tried to skirt controversy by being “formally adopted” by the Comanche Indians before playing Tonto in the Lone Ranger film.)
According to The Wrap, “Wright is planning to create a world that [is] very international and multi-racial, effectively challenging audiences’ preconceived notions of Neverland and reimagining the environment.” Given that Jackman, Hedlund, and Mara are all white, that could be a hint that Peter Pan himself will be played by an actor of color—the role has yet to be cast, but the production is reportedly looking for a boy between 10 and 12 years old—or it could merely be an attempt to stem a backlash against whitewashing one of the few canon Native American characters in mainstream pop culture. But hey, even if Wright’s Pan is offensive, there are still another half-dozen Peter Pan adaptations in the works that have the chance to get it right.