Was Race an Issue in ‘Hitch’ Casting?

Jeannette Walls, MSNBC, Feb. 24

Casting Will Smith’s love interest in “Hitch” was not a simple black or white decision.

Eva Mendes was given the role opposite Smith because the moviemakers were worried about the public’s reaction if the part was given to a white or an African American actress, according to Smith. The actor is saying that it was feared that a black couple would have put off worldwide audiences whereas a white/African American combo would have offended viewers in the U.S.

“There’s sort of an accepted myth that if you have two black actors, a male and a female, in the lead of a romantic comedy, that people around the world don’t want to see it,” Smith told the British paper, the Birmingham Post while promoting the flick overseas. “We spend $50-something million making this movie and the studio would think that was tough on their investment. So the idea of a black actor and a white actress comes up—that’ll work around the world, but it’s a problem in the U.S.”

Eva Mendes—who is of Cuban descent—was seen as a solution because apparently, the black/Latina combination is not considered taboo.

Sony didn’t return calls for comment.

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