Monday 16 January 2017

Ghost in the Shell producer finally responds to Scarlett Johansson 'white-washing' scandal

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 03/07/2016 | 17:35

Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell. Photo: Paramount
Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell. Photo: Paramount
Scarlett Johansson likes the challenge of filming steamy scenes
Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson attending the European premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron at Vue Westfield, Shepherds Bush Green, London.

Since Paramount released the first teaser image from the upcoming Ghost in the Shell film in April, fans have raged that Scarlett Johansson was cast to play the Japanese lead Major Motoko Kusanagi.

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The Western adaptation of the iconic manga and anime series has been dogged by controversy, as rumours circulated that the filmmakers had attempted to use CGI to make white actors appear Asian.

The producers have remained silent – until now.

Three months after the photo was released, producer Steven Paul defended the world of the film as an “international” one.

Scarlett Johansson likes the challenge of filming steamy scenes
Scarlett Johansson likes the challenge of filming steamy scenes

“There (are) all sorts of people and nationalities in the world in Ghost in the Shell. We’re utilising people from all over the world,” he told Buzzfeed.

“There’s Japanese in it. There’s Chinese in it. There’s English in it. There’s Americans in it.”

He continued to say he didn’t think it was “just a Japanese story”.

“Ghost in the Shell was a very international story, and it wasn’t just focused on Japanese; it was supposed to be an entire world,” he said.

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson

“That’s why I say the international approach is, I think, the right approach to it.”

Paul also confirmed that Johansson’s character will not be called Motoko Kusanagi. In a departure from the source material, she will be referred to simply as Major.

Despite the attempts to diversify the cast with more Asian actors, fans were unhappy with what they saw as the latest example of the long Hollywood tradition of 'white-washing'.

Paul insisted that audiences would not be disappointed.

Scarlett Johansson attending the European premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron at Vue Westfield, Shepherds Bush Green, London.
Scarlett Johansson attending the European premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron at Vue Westfield, Shepherds Bush Green, London.

“I think everybody is going to end up being really happy with it. They’re going to be very, very happy with it when they see what we’ve actually done with it, and I don’t think anybody’s going to be disappointed,” he added.

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