Scarlett Johansson said she should be able to play “any person, or any tree, or any animal,” and Twitter isn’t having it
Scarlett Johansson has come under fire multiple times for movie roles she has accepted. First, there was controversy surrounding her casting in Ghost in the Shell as a cyborg originally named Motoko Kusanagi in the Manga. In 2018, Johansson was again criticized when she was cast as a transgender man in the film Rub & Tug. (She later withdrew from the project.) Now, the actress is facing more backlash after stating that actors should be able to play “any person, or any tree, or any animal.”
In a recent interview with artist David Salle for As If magazine, Johansson discussed what she described as the “trends in casting” in movies and on television. She brought up the question of onscreen representation and then argued that actors shouldn’t be limited in their roles.
"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," she told Salle.
Salle then asked the Avengers: Endgame star if she felt that an actor could “play beyond” their ethnicity and gender. Johansson responded, “There are a lot of social lines being drawn now, and a lot of political correctness is being reflected in art.”
"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 said.
But many on Twitter did not agree.
As some pointed out, white, cisgender actors like Johansson already have far more opportunities than trans actors, disabled actors, and actors of color.
Others had jokes about her next role.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Johansson defended herself, saying that her words had been “edited for click bait” 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," her statement read. "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 that she understood that “not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to” and said she would “continue to fight for projects where everyone is included.”
Regardless of how Johansson’s comments were edited, representation in Hollywood is not a matter of “political correctness.” It’s a matter of making sure that marginalized actors can get the work they deserve. Hopefully, movies, television shows, and other creative arts will only continue to get more diverse.