Later this year, Ghost in the Shell will get its first first live-action treatment thanks to Lionsgate. The Hollywood studio will roll out Rupert Sanders’ imagining of the iconic anime series, and one of the industry’s top starlets will be leading the movie. Scarlett Johansson was brought on to play Major Motoko Kusanagi, but the news left some fans with a sour taste. Bringing a white actress in to play a popular Japanese character sat poorly with fans given its white-washing implications. And, now, Johansson is making a firm statement that pushes back against those fans and their complaints.
Recently, Marie Claire did a piece on the actress and spoke to Johansson about her Ghost in the Shell role. It was there that Johansson made a stand to defend her part in the movie.
"I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person,” Johansson said.
“Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive. Also, having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity. Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that — the weight of such a big property on my shoulders."
This is not the first time the cast and crew of Ghost in the Shell have responded to the film’s white-washing snafu. Last year, the director defended the casting of Johansson as it allowed him to bring a more diverse cast to the project.
“It’s a very international cast and I think that the best of casting her is that I didn’t have to cast big name actors around her, I could cast people like Juliette Binoche, Kaori Momoi, and Takeshi Kitano. That’s unusual for a Hollywood film, usually it’s that you need the star and then you need ten people who can be on the poster, but we didn’t have that. So it was great, I was given the freedom to cast the film however I wanted,” he said.
Based on Masamune Shirow’s acclaimed manga, Ghost in the Shell is a story that marries hi-tech action and philosophical musings. The series follows Major Motoko Kusanagi, a special ops leader at the anti-terrorist organization Section 9. The heroine is also a one-of-a-kind cybernetic human with a full body prosthesis. Tasked with catching bad guys, the Major works with her colleagues to catch criminals and extremists who wish to deconstruct society’s cybernetic advancements.
Ghost in the Shell is directed by Rupert Sanders, from a screenplay written by Jonathan Herman and Jamie Moss. It stars Scarlett Johansson as The Major, Pilou Asbæk as Batou, Takeshi Kitano as Chief Daisuke Aramaki, Chin Han as Togusa, Michael Pitt as Kuze, and Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouelet.
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Ghost in the Shell opens in theaters on March 31, 2017.