Scarlett Johansson defends Ghost in the Shell casting

Scarlett JohanssonScarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell is speaking out against critics who think her role in the upcoming remake of Ghost in the Shell is another case of Hollywood whitewashing.

Appearing on Good Morning America Tuesday (March 28), Scarlett defended being cast as the film’s lead character, soldier cyborg Motoko Kusanagi a.k.a Major, after the film received considerable backlash for choosing a white actress to play a character who is from Japan.

“I think this character is living a very unique experience in that she has a human brain in an entirely machinate body,” Scarlett said. “I would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously. Hopefully, any question that comes up of my casting will be answered by audiences when they see the film.”

Ghost in the Shell is a live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese manga series of the same name, created by Masamune Shirow. The film, directed by Rupert Sanders, takes place in a near-futuristic Japanese society. It follows Major, a human-turned-robot, who is ordered to take down dangerous criminals. Scarlett explained that because of Major’s cyborg nature, the character is essentially “identity-less.”

Also coming to the film’s defence is Mamoru Oshii, the director of the original 1995 animated Ghost in the Shell film, and some of its sequels. In an previous interview with IGN, Mamoru backed Scarlett’s casting, saying, “What issue could there possibly be with casting her? The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.”

“If that’s not allowed, then Darth Vader probably shouldn’t speak English, either,” the 65-year-old filmmaker continued. “I believe having Scarlett play Motoko was the best possible casting for this movie. I can only sense a political motive from the people opposing it, and I believe artistic expression must be free from politics.”

Ghost in the Shell hits theaters Friday, March 31. ~Ashleen Grange

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Ashley • March 29, 2017 @ 1:13 PM

    I agree with Mamoru, in part. If the character that this film is adapting was never originally specified to be Japanese, then I don’t think its wrong to have a non-Japanese actress in the role. However, I do think that whitewashing is still definitely a huge issue in Hollywood. I get certain names draw in more money, but there has to be opportunities for more mainstream representation of diverse backgrounds. I mean, they could have easily hired an Asian actress for this role?

  2. Robert • March 29, 2017 @ 1:56 PM

    * “I would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously*

    You are doing exactly that with the role you are trying to defend…. The Major is ASIAN…..

    *the character is essentially “identity-less.”*
    *If the character that this film is adapting was never originally specified to be Japanese,*

    In the anime and manga it is established she is ASIAN… She has an Asian name.. Hollywood even hired an Asian Actress to play her mother in this movie…..

  3. Bob • March 29, 2017 @ 2:06 PM

    And When this movie is a financial flop like Ghostbusters Remake… They already have their excuse…. Sexism, Discrimination, racism…

    Or the typical Live Action Movies excuses, You can’t please wishy-washy fans who don’t know what they want…

    It’s always someone else’s fault..

    Not the no name director they hired (when there was world famous directors who for ten years asked and begged to make this movie).
    Not the writers who ignored over 50% of the original source material…
    Not the talentless actress they hired (while white washing the role)

  4. Rick • March 29, 2017 @ 2:28 PM

    **If the character that this film is adapting was never originally specified to be Japanese,**

    It’s scientific/psychological event

    Its called the Default Human Being..
    If I draw a stick figure, most Americans will assume that it is a white man. Because to them that is the Default Human Being. For them to think it is a woman I have to add a dress or long hair; for Asian, I have to add slanted eyes; for black, I add kinky hair or brown skin. Etc.

    To Japanese the Default Human Being is Japanese! So they feel no need to make their characters “look Asian”…
    Japanese anime characters are Japanese, because they were created by Japanese people in Japan

    It’s only when the characters have exaggerated Western figures or speak goofy Japanese that viewers are clued in that they are looking at a non-Japanese character.

  5. Snepts • March 29, 2017 @ 4:34 PM

    It looks like a nice movie.

  6. Hal • March 30, 2017 @ 9:09 AM

    If anything, all this buzz is going to help the movie. People are interested now – that’s what counts. (I’m not one of them – I think this looks like trash and I’d rather watch someone assemble IKEA furniture.)

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