Ghost In The Shell Producer Defends Scarlett Johansson Casting

Credit: Paramount/Dreamworks
Credit: Paramount/Dreamworks

A producer for the upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie has defended the controversial casting of Scarlett Johansson.

Signing a white lead actress for the live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime was met with “whitewashing” accusations, but Steven Paul thinks that Johansson – the highest-grossing female star of all time according to Box Office Mojo – was the best choice.

“I think everybody is going to end up being really happy with it,” Paul told Buzzfeed. “They’re going to be very, very happy with it when they see what we’ve actually done with it, and I don’t think anybody’s going to be disappointed.”

Directed by Snow White and the Huntsman’s Rupert Sanders, Ghost in the Shell also stars Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt, Takeshi Kitano, Joseph Naufahu, Chin Han, Michael Wincott and Game of Thrones’ Pilou Asbæk.

“I don’t think it was just a Japanese story,” Paul said. “Ghost in the Shell was a very international story, and it wasn’t just focused on Japanese; it was supposed to be an entire world. That’s why I say the international approach is, I think, the right approach to it.”

The original manga was written by Masamune Shirow and published in 1989 by Kodansha Comics. According to Paul, both Shirow and Kodansha have been involved in the movie’s production.

Indeed, Sam Yoshiba of Kodansha Comics said back in April that he “never expected” a Japanese actress in the lead. He told The Hollywood Reporter: “This is a chance for a Japanese property to be seen around the world.”

Johansson’s character is a cyborg leading a covert special ops group called Section 9 against technology-related crime. Originally Major Motoko Kusanagi in the source material, fans now know (courtesy of Paul’s Buzzfeed interview) that she will simply be “the Major”. 

Ghost in the Shell is scheduled for release on April 14, 2017.