Scarlett Johansson has shared her thoughts on the controversy surrounding her casting in certain roles, including playing an Asian character in Ghost in the Shell and a trans character in Rub Tug. In an interview with As If magazine, the actress expressed frustration with what she perceives as political correctness in art and argued that actors should be able to play any character, including trees and animals. However, Johansson later clarified that her comments had been taken out of context and edited for clickbait. The interview, which also featured contemporary painter David Salle, focused on a photo shoot collaboration between the two artists, during which Salle asked Johansson to “play with the idea of living within a tree.” While Johansson’s statement may have been misinterpreted, her opinions on the challenges of navigating political correctness in casting remain a topic of debate.
During the time of actors such as James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Marlon Brando, there was a sense of liberation. They fearlessly displayed their emotions on the screen, a quality which was also reflected in the works of playwrights like Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. These writers created raw and complex scenes for actors to perform. It was a time that required real guts. However, Scarlett Johansson believes that acting goes through trends and we are currently living in an identity-less and complex era. She thinks there are no particular trends in performance, but casting is crucial. Today, there is a lot of emphasis on who should represent us on screen. Scarlett believes that as an actor, she should be allowed to play any role regardless of gender, ethnicity, or even if it’s a tree or an animal. However, she acknowledges the social lines being drawn now and the political correctness reflected in art. While she understands the reasons behind it, Scarlett feels that unrestricted art is necessary. She discusses this with David, acknowledging that it’s a complicated issue without a straightforward answer.
In the movie, Ghost in the Shell, Scarlett Johansson referred to her character as “identity-less.” Although Johansson’s statement sparked controversy, she clarified that her intention was to express her belief that any actor should be able to play any role and that art should not be limited by political correctness. However, she also acknowledged the inequality present in the entertainment industry and pledged to continue supporting diversity. Despite this, problematic casting discussions are likely to resurface in the future, but Johansson’s upcoming movie, Jojo Rabbit, may shift the conversation to a different topic. Taika Waititi, Johansson’s co-star and director, has his own theory of casting, which is not entirely color-blind. Waititi believes that racially insensitive casting can have positive effects as long as it is done with respect.