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By Rachel Yang
December 21, 2020 at 08:36 PM EST
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Simu Liu, Mark Wahlberg
Credit: George Pimentel/Getty Images; Gabriel Grams/FilmMagic

Shang-Chi star Simu Liu is defending himself after deleting tweets about his new costar Mark Wahlberg's past actions.

The Chinese-Canadian actor, who recently signed on to star opposite Wahlberg in the adventure movie Arthur the King, slammed the actor back in 2018 for assaulting two Vietnamese men in 1988. Liu then faced scrutiny for deleting the tweets after the casting was announced.

On Instagram, Liu explained his decision, saying he did it out of "professionalism" and he hopes he can start "progressive conversations" with Wahlberg.

"I signed on to Arthur the King because I absolutely adored the script, which tells the beautiful story of how a dog changed the lives of four adventure racers in the forests of Ecuador," Liu wrote on Saturday. "Especially having been a dog dad until last year, it hit me straight in the feels. I was and am very passionate about bringing this story to the screen, and playing a character that is undoubtedly a positive representation of an Asian man."

He continued, "I deleted a couple of tweets I made regarding the past actions of one of my costars as a gesture of professionalism and to open [the] door to progressive conversations and (hopefully) positive change. Obviously it'd be pretty weird to go to work with that tweet still up."

In 2018, Liu said in the now-deleted tweet, "Let me get this straight, Mark Wahlberg beat a helpless Vietnamese man with a stick until he passed out when he was 16, and is attempting to get the courts to grant him an official pardon on the basis that he's 'turned his life around'?"

"I meant what I said in the moment; I was very angry hearing about what happened," Liu explained over the weekend on Instagram. "But that doesn't mean I don't think there's room to grow and work together to find an opportunity to educate and do some good — which I'm excited to do in addition to shooting the movie. Progressive discussion will lead to dialogue, and dialogue will lead to action."

When Wahlberg was 16, he was convicted as an adult of assault and other charges stemming from a convenience store robbery. He was sentenced to three months in jail but was released after serving about 45 days.

In 2014, he requested a pardon for the crime, noting in his application that he turned his life around and became a successful music artist, actor, and film and television producer. He also mentioned that he has raised millions of dollars for charity and donated his time and efforts for philanthropic causes.

Wahlberg said in 2016 that he regrets requesting the pardon, but that some good came out of it as he was able to meet with one of his victims to apologize. Johnny Trinh, the man he met with, had already said he forgave Wahlberg because "everyone deserves another chance.”

Liu can be seen in Marvel's upcoming film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which also stars Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, and more.

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