Faizon Love has sued Universal Pictures over claims that he was removed from international posters for the 2009 comedy Couples Retreat because of his race.
In the film, which also starred Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman and Jon Favreau, Love played one of eight married friends who attend a tropical retreat in the hopes of revitalising their respective relationships.
While Love and his Black co-star Kali Hawk appeared in the background of the film’s US poster, the pair were entirely removed from its international poster. Images of the film’s white leads, which also included Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman and Kristin Davis, were otherwise intact.
In a new lawsuit, Love claims that he was left “aghast” by the move. “Universal Studios had no problem featuring Black actors in the comedic film,” the suit reads, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “But when it came to publicising the film to international audiences, Universal Studios chose to segregate the motion picture’s white and Black actors.”
Love compares himself to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in the complaint, adding that Universal “placed [him] in the back seat of the ride enjoyed by his six white co-stars”.
Love also claims that Universal’s promise to remove the poster from circulation, and compensate him for the upset “in the form of lucrative, career-making film roles”, didn’t materialise.
In 2009, a Universal spokesperson apologised for the poster, claiming that Love and Hawk were removed from the design to “simplify” it.
The studio also pledged to stop plans to use the poster, yet Love’s lawsuit claims that the poster is still in circulation across the internet.
The Independent has reached out to Universal for comment.
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