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Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell
Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shellcourtesy of Paramount

Scarlett Johansson addresses her casting controversies

She’s drawn criticism in the past for playing the lead in an adaptation of Ghost in the Shell and a trans man in Rub & Tug

Scarlett Johansson has made some interesting choices about the roles she’ll play over the past few years. First, there came widespread accusations of whitewashing when she took on the lead role of Major in 2017’s live-action adaptation of the manga/anime series Ghost in the Shell, directed by Rupert Sanders

Then, in 2018, it was announced that Sanders was directing Johansson again, this time as a trans man, Dante “Tex” Gill, in Rub & Tug. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t go down well either. Johansson eventually exited the production, which has been quiet ever since. Now, though, the actress has doubled down on her right to play any role.

“You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job,” she says, speaking in a new cover interview with As If.

“I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.”

While there is something to be said for making art without restrictions, her description of discourse about representation as a “trend” may fall a little flat, since it seems to discount the concrete effect that it has on those typically underrepresented in the industry (including trans and Asian actors).

“I think society would be more connected if we just allowed others to have their own feelings and not expect everyone to feel the way we do,” she adds.

Johansson, still the highest grossing actress ever, gained recognition for her role in the cult classic Ghost World before becoming a box office mainstay in the Avengers franchise, including Avengers: Endgame, which is on track to become the highest grossing film.