From The Big Short to Moneyball, Michael Lewis is no stranger to having his books adapted into films. But the author says that it’s unlikely his 2014 book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt will ever make it to the big screen — because Hollywood is hesitant to cast a film with an Asian lead actor.
Lewis spoke Saturday at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., where he told Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach that despite past Hollywood interest, a potential Flash Boys movie is unlikely to get off the ground because his main character, real-life IEX CEO Brad Katsuyama, is of Asian descent.
“Right now it’s close to dead,” Lewis told the audience. “The problem was revealed in the Sony hack. There were emails back and forth about how impossible it was to make a movie with an Asian lead. The problem was Brad Katsuyama. They’ve gotten to the point where they’re nervous about making an Asian guy a white guy. Decades ago, they weren’t. They would have just done that. But they don’t think there’s a well-enough known Asian male actor. Which I think is crazy.”
Back in 2014, Aaron Sorkin signed on to write a film version of Flash Boys, but the project has since fizzled. Flash Boys follows a group of Wall Street employees, including Katsuyama, who discovered and exposed the controversial practice of high-frequency trading.
Lewis’ comments come as the scrutiny over Hollywood whitewashing have mounted, with projects like Aloha, Doctor Strange, and Ghost in the Shell coming under fire for casting white actors as Asian characters. In August, Ed Skrein left the upcoming Hellboy reboot after the backlash over the fact that he was cast to play a Japanese-American character.