Not long after “The Martian” debuted, there was some controversy over the decision to cast Chiwetel Ejiofor to play a character named Vincent Kapoor. In the novel from which “The Martian” was derived, the character is Indian and his name is Venkat Kapoor. But after failing to secure Indian actor Irrfan Khan, who wasn’t available because of commitments to other projects, filmmaker Ridley Scott, ultimately decided to make Kapoor’s character mixed race and rename him him Vincent. Ejiofor is black.
Ansari was expanding on the thinking behind the famous fourth episode of his hit Netflix show “Masters of None,” which scolds modern movies and programs that used white actors in brownface to portray Indian characters. In his Times piece, Ansari extends his thanks to “Parks and Recreation” creator Mike Schur, who cast him as Tom Haverford and thus, provided Ansari with experience that would help him secure his first television show of his own.
He provides some transparency about how hard it was to find an Asian actor for “Master of None” — difficult but not impossible. Ansari has jumped full force into the conversation about making television shows and movies more reflective of society, and his advice to those who are already trying is to keep it up, and try harder. Eventually something will work out.
As for Ansari missing out on “Martian” hype? Well, now he belongs to a club with Angelina Jolie. She passed on a popular epic space movie, too: “Gravity.”