Scarlett Johansson: Should She ‘Be Allowed to Play Any Person?’
“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.”
Movie actress Scarlett Johansson apparently spoke out against political correctness when it comes to being cast in certain film roles.
In the current issue of As If magazine, the superstar said “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.”
Her statement would seem to be in response to the backlash she received last year for being cast as a trans man in an upcoming project, Rub & Tub. Detractors were offended that the role wasn’t given to an actual trans actor. The actress initially refused to back down, but eventually relinquished the role.
Johansson also faced previous scrutiny for being cast as the lead in the 2017 movie Ghost in the Shell, based on a popular Japanese manga and anime that centered on an Asian protagonist, which Johansson ultimately portrayed.
Her new interview was not exclusively about political correctness, but the “highest-paid actress in Hollywood” appeared to address it candidly.
“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,” she said.
“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 continued.
This isn’t the first time Johansson rebuked political correctness. When facing the controversy over potentially playing a trans man in Rub & Tub, she gave examples of cisgendered actors who played trans characters in the past such as Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman.
Unsurprisingly, her new comments with As If magazine have ignited backlash in the media, with accusations of being insensitive, entitled, and thoughtless—as well as an example of white privilege. The implications are that actors who are people of color and LGBTQ need more opportunities and that white cisgendered actors who essentially take on roles depicting these very people only deprives them of it.
Interestingly, there has been praise when a person of color portrays a character who was traditionally Caucasian, such as the recent casting of African-American actress Halle Bailey in Disney’s upcoming The Little Mermaid. Although the news was also met with significant backlash, would the same people who support Bailey defend Johansson’s claims that an actor should be able to play any character, regardless of race then?
Johansson has also followed up on her new interview with As If—claiming that her words were simply taken out of context for the sake of “click bait”.
She explained that she was merely answering a question in her interview “about the confrontation between political correctness and art.”
“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 didn’t come across that way,” she clarified.
Johansson also added: “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.”