Twitter users are challenging the Hollywood trend of "whitewashing" movie roles, by tweeting out altered movie posters that cast an Asian actor in the lead role.

The hashtag #StarringJohnCho was created to show what it would look like if big-budget Hollywood films were made with Asian actor John Cho, of "Harold and Kumar" fame, cast in the lead role.

According to a website explaining the hashtag, the issue came to a head after several recent instances where movie executives cast white actors in movie roles that were originally written to be Asian.

For example, Cameron Crowe was slammed last summer for his decision to cast actress Emma Stone as a character who is ¼ Hawaiin and ¼ Chinese in his film "Aloha." 

Recently, anime fans were outraged to learn that actress Scarlett Johansson had been cast in the role of Motoko Kusanagi in a remake of the Japanese anime classic "Ghost in the Shell."

Fans were similarly angered with the decision to cast Tilda Swinton in the role of The Ancient One in the upcoming film comic-book adaptation "Doctor Strange." In the original comics, The Ancient One originates from Tibet.

Actor George Takei slammed the decision on Facebook, claiming that movie executives “cast Tilda because they believe white audiences want to see white faces.

"To those who say, 'She (is) an actress, this is fiction,' remember that Hollywood has been casting white actors in Asian roles for decades now, and we can't keep pretending there isn't something deeper at work here."

The website, which encourages readers to share the altered movie posters on social media, says that only one per cent of lead roles go to Asian actors, even though studies have shown that films with diverse casts return higher box office numbers.

"Support #StarringJohnCho by sharing the hashtag and help ignite this necessary conversation," the website says. There is also a matching Twitter account that tweets out the posters, as well as facts about the actor. 

Twitter users were quick to pick up on the trend, tweeting their support for Cho, along with the altered posters, including ones for "The Martian," "Jurassic World," “Spectre,” and romantic comedy "Me before you."

While Cho himself is not associated with the campaign, the actor began following the Twitter account last week.


The issue of diversity in Hollywood was pushed into the spotlight earlier this year after the Oscar nominations revealed a lack of non-white nominees

This sparked the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and boycotts, prompting host Chris Rock to address the issue head-on during his monologue.