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A promotional clip of the film posted by Universal Pictures Italy on May 6 featured Cox’s character, Gail, talking to lead Cassie, played by Carey Mulligan, in a distinctively masculine voice. The Orange Is the New Black star was dubbed into Italian by the deep tones of Italian voice-over actor Roberto Pedicini. Italian viewers took to social media in outrage, forcing the studio to change the audio.
Universal has postponed the local release of Emerald Fennell’s revenge thriller, which was set to hit Italian cinemas on May 13, while it re-synchronizes Cox’s character using a female voice-over performer. The studio will also re-voice local versions of Promising Young Woman in other territories, including Spain and Germany, where a male actor was originally used to sync Cox’s performance.
In a statement to The Guardian, which originally reported the story, a spokesperson for Universal Pictures International (UPI) said the studio was “deeply grateful” to the transgender community “for opening our eyes to a bias that neither we nor many in our industry had recognized. While there was no malicious intent behind this mistake, we are working diligently to fix it. We have begun redubbing Ms. Cox’s voice with female actors in our international territories and are pushing back release dates to ensure the correct version is available.”
UPI said it was “sorry for the pain caused but are thankful that we can address the situation on this film and prevent similar mistakes from happening again on future projects.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Italian trans actor and voice actor Vittoria Schisano called the dubbing choice a “straight-up act of violence,” noting that she was not approached to voice the character in Promising Young Woman despite having previously dubbed Cox on the Netflix documentary Amend: The Fight for America.
Italian Twitter users noted this wasn’t the first time one of Cox’s characters has been voiced by a man in Italy. Her character in Orange is the New Black, Sophia Burset, was voiced by Andrea Lavagnino, a male performer who also dubbed Cox in roles in The Mindy Project and Doubt.
The discussion over the use of voice-over actors and representation recalls a similar debate sparked late last year in several European countries over the Pixar film Soul. The lead character Joe Gardner, the first Black protagonist in Pixar’s history, and voiced by Jamie Foxx in the original, was dubbed by white actors in several territories, including Denmark, Germany and Spain.
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