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Director on Scarlett Johansson Whitewashing in ‘Ghost in the Shell’

Ghost in the Shell, DreamWorks SKG

With the unveiling of the trailer for the film adaptation of the Japanese Manga Ghost in the Shell, director Rupert Sanders answered some questions about the film, and more specifically on the ‘whitewashing’ controversy. Ghost in the Shell has come under fire recently for the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Major Kusanagi, a character that is Japanese in the Manga. This doesn’t stop with Johansson. The entire cast of the Manga is Asian, and the film stays a ways from that. There was also a rumor that the actors underwent digital enhancements to appear ‘more Asian’ in the film, but that was quickly shot down.

Ghost in the Shell, DreamWorks SKG
‘Ghost in the Shell’, starring Scarlett Johansson. Directed by Rupert Sanders. Image: DreamWorks SKG

According to Sanders, he supports his casting of Johansson as ‘The Major’. He cites that she has an extensive Hollywood career, and that she has the aesthetic needed to play her character. In an interview with Screen Rant, he says:

“To me, I cast very much from the gut and I think I was very lucky to be able to get an amazing international cast of people who I’ve always really wanted to work with… I stand by my decision – she’s the best actress of her generation, and was flattered and honored that she would be in this film. I think, certainly people who were around the original anime, have been vehemently in support of her because she’s incredible and there are very few like her.

She’s been a mind without a body, and a body without a mind… That’s really what drew me to her as The Major. She seemed to just inhabit that world so well. She did an incredible job of nuancing the human evolving through the machine, and in a way I think why it’s very relative to a large audience.”

Ghost in the Shell, Paramount Pictures
Scarlett Johansson as the Major in ‘Ghost in the Shell’. Image: Paramount Pictures

Reports from the set are that the film is about to wrap. With the recent release of the trailer, there are few that doubt Johansson’s ability to play Major Kusanagi. Even those that created the original Manga are pleased with her performance.

Ghost in the Shell hits theaters on 31 March 2017.

Brad Repka
I am an avid lover of all things Movies, TV, Games, and delicious other randomness. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave comment!