“Ghost In The Shell” Director Defends Controversial Scarlett Johansson Casting

1. For months, fans of the popular Japanese franchise Ghost of the Shell have been enraged about Scarlett Johansson’s casting in Paramount’s upcoming live-action adaptation.

Paramount Pictures

After the first image of Johansson as the film’s protagonist was released in April, many people denounced the controversial casting choice as “whitewashing,” a move one of the film’s producers laters defended to BuzzFeed News.

And though some fans were impressed by the Ghost in the Shell teaser trailers that dropped in late September, most didn’t know how to feel about seeing Johansson, a white actor, play the famous cyborg from Masamune Shirow’s groundbreaking manga series.

2. Now, Rupert Sanders, the director behind the contentious project, has finally addressed the outrage.

Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images

At a trailer launch event for the film in Tokyo, Sanders defended Johansson’s casting during a Q&A panel.

“I stand by my decision. She’s the best actress of her generation,” he told reporters and attendees. “I was flattered and honored that she would be in this film, and I think so many people who are around the original anime have been vehemently in support of her because she is incredible and there are very few like her.”

Sanders also said, according to ETOnline, that Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii is among those who approve of Johannson’s casting.

Kodansha — the publisher behind the original manga series — has also endorsed Johansson’s part in the film. “Looking at her career so far, I think Scarlett Johansson is well cast,” Sam Yoshiba, director of the international business division at Kodansha, told The Hollywood Reporter in April.

Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images

When Sanders gathered with a group of reporters after the Q&A, he said, according to ETOnline, “I think we’re very proud of what we’ve done and how we’ve done it. So, it wasn’t like, ‘We’ve got to get it out there! I’m not going to take any more flack!’ It was like, ‘It’ll come out when it’s ready.’”

Sanders also reportedly said that casting Johnasson allowed him to cast a wider range of talent. “The beauty of casting her was then I didn’t have to cast big name actors around her,” he said. “I could cast people like Juliette Binoche and Kaori Momoi and Takeshi Kitano. That’s unusual for a Hollywood film… I was given the freedom to cast the film how I wanted.”

4. The first full trailer of Ghost in the Shell that launched in conjunction with the event contains the most extensive look of Johansson in character so far.

Paramount Pictures

5. Watch the full trailer below.

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