Scarlett Johansson has defended her right to play different types of characters following controversies around some of her recent castings.
In a new interview with As If magazine, Johansson said she she should be able to play whichever characters she chooses despite repeated criticisms of her casting in roles that many felt would have been better suited to other actors.
Speaking about the controversy, Johansson said it was an example of “political correctness being reflected in art.”
She continued: “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,” Johansson reportedly told the magazine.
Describing the backlash as a “trend”, she also said: “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.”
Meanwhile, news of Johansson’s comments have faced widespread criticism on social media. You can read some of these below.
How Scarlett Johansson sees herself pic.twitter.com/gXaN5g1Hu0
— ʀᴀᴄʜᴇʟ (@emmagildas) July 13, 2019
One definition of white privilege is being able to pretend the advantages you have — in this case, an industry full of executives who will let you play any characters you want in a way they don't for actors of color — are just an exercise in fairness. https://t.co/RNSG8UO1zc
— Eric Deggans at NPR (@Deggans) July 13, 2019
scarlett johansson looks so good here pic.twitter.com/p1IIsiJtFI
— ?alim kheraj (@alimkheraj) July 14, 2019
Scarlett Johansson is a cisgender white woman with a powerful platform and no storage of work opportunities. Trans people should play trans people. Period. It is incredibly disappointing that she has learned nothing and clearly does not care about the experiences of trans people. https://t.co/yWMeCZbUMS
— Charlotte Clymer?️? (@cmclymer) July 13, 2019
ScarJo is the highest paid female actor in 2018, banking $40.5 mil. But she feels entitled to take roles away from Asian, Trans & other underrepresented actors? https://t.co/vB0g2SlatA
— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) July 13, 2019
Yes, ScarJo, you should be able to play a tree. Because there aren’t countless sentient trees desiring to act yet struggling to get cast in roles. But there ARE ton of LGBTQIA l/non binary actors who have vocalized that they would love to represent those characters.
— Stephanie Mickus (@smickable) July 13, 2019
Criticisms first emerged in 2017 when Johansson played the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi in the live-action adaptation of Japanese manga Ghost in the Shell despite the role being written for someone of Asian descent. Some critics said her casting was an example of “whitewashing” and the controversy arguably hindered the film’s box office earnings.
In 2018, Johansson was embroiled in yet another casting controversy after deciding to take on the role of a transgender man, Tex Gill, in upcoming film Rub & Tug.
Although Johansson defended her right to play the transgender character, LGBTQ activists urged the filmmakers to give the role to a trans actor instead and she subsequently dropped out of the project.
In a statement obtained by Bustle, Johansson said via her representative: “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
That statement – which references prominent actors who have played transgender roles – further fuelled the backlash against her casting.