Back in the 1960s, it was not typically seen or accepted for a Black lead actor to be seen in mainstream American movies. So why did Romero cast Duane Jones as Ben in Night of the Living Dead?

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    I see nothing wrong with this question. It was, of course, controversial at the time of release.
    – A J
    Jul 21, 2017 at 9:36

1 Answer 1


George Romero said that Jones "simply gave the best audition."

WikiPedia Notes about NOTLD Casting.

Duane Jones was the best actor we met to play Ben. ... Consciously I resisted writing new dialogue ‘cause he happens to be black. We just shot the script. Perhaps 'Night of the Living Dead' is the first film to have a black man playing the lead role regardless of, rather than because of, his race.

More quotes from Romero about Duane Jones. From “Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever” (Citadel Press/Kensington, 2010).

But the movie's ending also can't help but serve as a biting social commentary as well.


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