Ghost In The Shell Star Scarlett Johansson Comments On "Whitewashing" Controversy

"I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person."

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Ever since the live-action Hollywood adaptation of the classic anime film Ghost in the Shell was announced, it has attracted criticism for the casting of a white American actress in the lead role as cyborg cop The Major, who has previously been portrayed as Japanese. Now star Scarlett Johansson has commented on the "whitewashing" controversy.

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In an interview with Marie Claire, Johansson suggested that she wasn't actually playing a Japanese character."I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person," she said. "Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.

"Also, having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity. Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that--the weight of such a big property on my shoulders."

Johansson's comments follow those made last year by the publishers of the original Ghost in the Shell manga. Sam Yoshiba, director of Kodansha's international business division, explained that he believed the casting would in fact benefit the film. "Looking at her career so far, I think Scarlett Johansson is well-cast," he said.

"She has the cyberpunk feel. And we never imagined it would be a Japanese actress in the first place. This is a chance for a Japanese property to be seen around the world."

The latest trailer for the movie was revealed during the Super Bowl last weekend--check it out here.

Ghost in the Shell is directed by Rupert Sanders and also stars Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, and Michael Pitt. It hits theaters on March 31, 2017.

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