Cuban-American actor Faizon Love has launched legal action against Hollywood studio Universal, saying he was cut out of the poster for the 2009 comedy Couples Retreat because he was black. The filing also stated: “Mr. Love and his Black costar, Kali Hawk, were expunged completely from the film’s principal international advertisement, while the other ‘couples’ basked in the publicity and acclaim of an international box office hit.”
In a filing in a Los Angeles court reported, Love said that he and his fellow actor Kali Hawk – the only principal black actors in the film – were removed from the international editions of the poster (i.e, that used for promotion outside the US). Love said that while Universal had “no problem featuring Black actors” in the film, “when it came to publicizing the film to international audiences, Universal Studios chose to segregate the motion picture’s White and Black actors”.
Couples Retreat features four couples who visit a therapy center and also stars Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, and Kristin Davis. Love and Hawk appear in the background of the promotional poster but were removed from the poster used to promote the film in the UK. Love says that after media reports of his and Hawks’ removal, he received an apology from the Universal chairman and one of the film’s producers and that the poster would be destroyed. Love also said that Vaughn, the film’s lead actor, had also persuaded him not to make a fuss as it would not be “good for his career”.
However, Love accuses Universal of “wilful discrimination” and “systematic bigotry”, and states that as of July 2020, he discovered that the poster had not been withdrawn.