UPDATE: Scarlett Johansson clarified that her controversial comments in an As If interview were “edited for click bait.” “An interview that was recently published has been edited for click bait and is 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,” the actress said in a statement Sunday (via Variety). “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.”
Scarlett Johansson addressed her recent casting controversies in a new interview where the actress reflected on the current socially conscious “trend” permeating through Hollywood and questioned whether political correctness should inform casting decisions.
“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 told artist David Salle in an interview for As If.
Johansson’s comments come after the actress faced a pair of casting controversies, first for her “whitewashed” leading role in the Ghost in the Shell adaptation and then for taking on the lead role in Rub & Tug, which told the real-life story of a mob boss who was born a woman but identified as a man; following outcry, Johansson ultimately dropped out of the latter film.
“There are a lot of social lines being drawn now, and a lot of political correctness is being reflected in art,” Johansson said in the As If interview.
“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.”
Johansson’s As If comments echo the defiant stance she took in her statement following her casting in Rub & Tug: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” Johansson said; Tambor, Leto and Huffman played transgender roles in Transparent, Dallas Buyers Club and Transamerica, respectively.
However, following continued backlash, Johansson revealed in a statement to Out that, after further consideration, she would drop out of Rub & Tug. “In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project,” Johansson said in July 2018. “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.”
Johansson added in the As If interview, “I don’t know if there’s a trend in performance, but there’s certainly trends in casting right now. Today there’s a lot of emphasis and conversation about what acting is and who we want to see represent ourselves on screen. The question now is, what is acting anyway?”