Scarlett Johansson on Freedom of Film Casting: "I Should Be Able to Play Any Person, Tree, Animal"
The actress later clarified her statements, saying the interview was "edited for clickbait" and "widely taken out of context."
Opening up about the intricacies of political correctness in film casting, Scarlett Johansson shared her opinion that as an actor, she should be free to interpret a wide range of characters — anything she sees fit.
"You know, as an actor I should be able to play any person, or any tree, or any animal, because that's my job and the requirements of my job," she said in a cover story for As If magazine.
Added Johansson, "I feel like [political correctness is] 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 went on to say, "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."
The actress on Sunday addressed the interview in a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter, clarifying that her comments were "edited for clickbait" and "widely taken out of context."
"The question I was answering in my conversation with the contemporary artist, David Salle, was about the confrontation between political correctness and art," Johansson stated. "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 added: "I recognize that in reality, there is a widespread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cisgendered 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."
Last year, Johansson pulled out of the film Rub & Tug, in which she had been cast to play a trans man, real-life figure Dante Tex Gill, a gangster and massage parlor owner. "In light of recent ethical questions surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project," the actress said at the time.
In 2016, Johansson was the subject of widespread controversy when she starred in an adaptation of the Japanese anime hit Ghost in the Shell. Fans were disappointed that a Japanese actor was not cast in the lead role, declaring an outrage of "whitewashing." The film was poorly received upon its release.
July 14, 9:10 a.m. Updated with Johannson's statement.