Kiwi talent agency BGT Actors Models and Talent, who is tasked with casting characters for Amazon TV's new Lord of The Rings series, has been slammed over their "degrading, prejudiced" casting call.
Last month BGT Actors Models and Talent released a bizarre casting call for "funky looking" Kiwis to feature on the Lord of The Rings television series.
In it, they said they are looking for "unusually" looking people, with an "overbite, face burns, long skinny limbs, deep cheek bones, lines on your face, acne scars, ears that stick out, bulbous or interesting noses, small eyes, big eyes, skinny faces, missing bones."
The agency's ad also featured photos of a range of people who have been used in a US campaign to warn against the dangers of meth use.
But their call for unusual looking people has angered some across the world, including Face Equality International who support people who have facial differences or deformities.
In an open letter sent to the Herald and addressed to the casting crew, Face Equality International say the casting call is "degrading", can cause "serious harm" and have strong negative impact on people who have abnormalities in their appearance.
"We want to draw your urgent attention to the serious harm caused by the advert seeking 'funky-looking people' for the new Amazon TV series as reported here, and in turn the negative impacts that will ensue if real-life people with facial differences are asked to play non-human, monster-like Orcs," the open letter reads.
"We assume the individuals sought with 'overbite, face burns, long skinny limbs, deep cheek bones, lines on your face, acne scars, ears that stick out, bulbous or interesting noses, small eyes, big eyes, skinny faces, missing bones' will be cast as the Orcs.
"These non-human creatures are the most immoral, villainous and reviled characters in the stories whose very appearance is designed to invoke fear and disdain. It is unfair, disgusting and degrading to ask people with facial differences to play such roles.
"Through this casting, the TV series will also undoubtedly perpetuate an old and out-dated face-ist stereotype in young minds: that people with facial differences are morally deficient, baddies, monsters to be feared and avoided.
"It will also justify more general ridicule and abuse in public places: over a quarter of people with a visible difference have experienced a hate crime in their lives. This coupled with low expectations and achievement at school, fear of abuse online and at work, are common experiences for people with facial differences, at any age."
The Herald approached BGT Actors Models and Talent for comment, but a spokesperson said "there will be no comment here from anyone regarding that [Lord of The Rings] production".
Face Equality International say they believe people with facial differences have "suffered insulting bullying and name-calling after other Hollywood 'baddies' came on the screen".
They claim characters like The Joker, Scar (from the Lion King), Freddy Krueger and others have had negative influences on people with deformities or facial differences.
"For children with a cleft lip and palate, facial burns, a hairy birthmark, acne or eczema, a squint or other unusual facial feature, their self-esteem and confidence can be dented for years when they see themselves represented so negatively," they expressed in their letter.
"If we tell the world that people with facial differences are monsters, we tell every child who is born with, or who acquires a facial difference, that they too are a monster. Why would a responsible industry wish to force this fate upon anyone?"
Amazon's giant Lord of the Rings shoot is set to resume in West Auckland this month, an insider earlier told the Herald.
The same person tipped the suspension of production on March 15 due to the pandemic, leaving hundreds of cast members and crew stranded in Auckland as the hiatus turned into a multi-month layover.