Skip to main content

Home Culture Culture Film & TV

Scarlett Johansson says controversial casting comments were ‘taken out of context’

"I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry."

By Will Stroude

Scarlett Johansson has insisted that recent comments about film casting were “taken out of context” and “edited for clickbait”.

The Hollywood leading lady, who has been at the centre of a number of casting controversies over the last couple of years, raised eyebrows over the weekend after telling As If magazine she should be “allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal.”

The comments came after Johansson was criticised for taking the lead role in 2017’s action sci-fi Ghost in the Shell, playing a character many believed should have been portrayed by an Asian actress due to the film being based on a Japanese manga comic series.

Less than a year ago, Johansson stepped down from playing ’70s Pittsburgh crime boss and trans man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill in upcoming film Rub & Tug after critics denounced the decision to cast a cisgender woman in a transgender role.

While not commenting on the incidents directly, Johansson told As If that Hollywood should be “free of restrictions” on casting.

“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,” the Avengers star 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.”

After the comments attracted a renewed wave of criticism, a spokesperson for Johanson said the article “has been edited for clickbait and is widely taken out of context.”

“The question I was answering in my conversation with the contemporary artist, David Salle, was about the confrontation between political correctness and art,” the actress said via her spokesperson.

“I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and Art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness.

“That is the point I was making, albeit [it] didn’t come across that way. I recognize that in reality, there is a widespread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to.

“I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included.”