Scarlett Johansson: As an actor, I have the right to portray “any person” I want

In recent years, Scarlett Johansson has come under fire over allegations of appropriation. In 2017, she  starred in Rupert Sanders’ controversial adaptation of the Japanese manga, Ghost in the Shellfor which she was accused of whitewashing. A year later, she sparked outrage after signing on to play the role of a transgender man in Sanders’ follow-up, Rub and Tug. In response to the backlash, Johansson exited the project.

In a new interview with As If, Johansson took a curious position when addressing these recent controversies. In short? As an actor, she believes she has the right to play any role and blamed political correctness for preventing her from being able to do so.

“You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job,” Johansson said. “I feel like it’s 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.”

“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,” she added.

Johansson took a similar stance when initially defending her casting in Rub and Tug in 2018. In a statement at the time, she said: “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” referencing similar roles played by cisgender talent in TransparentDallas Buyers Club, and Transamerica, respectively.

However, after bowing out of the project, Johansson sang a much different tune: “Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive.”

For now, Johansson is busy making that long-awaited Black Widow movie and planning for her wedding to SNL head writer Colin Jost.

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