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‘Ghost in the Shell’ Director Defends Scarlett Johansson After Whitewashing Claims

"I think whenever you cast someone someone’s going to be critical about it...I stand by my decision," says director Rupert Sanders.

"Ghost In The Shell"

“Ghost In The Shell”

Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

Scarlett Johansson’s new film “Ghost in the Shell,” based on the popular manga and anime of the same name, has received its fair share of controversy over the past year from critics who argue that casting Johansson as the film’s protagonist is an act of whitewashing. Though people on the film’s creative team have tried to stymie the controversy, it nevertheless persists. Now, according to The Verge, the director Rupert Sanders has come out and defended his choice of casting in an on-stage interview in Tokyo when the film’s first trailer premiered.

READ MORE: ‘Ghost In The Shell’ Trailer: Scarlett Johansson Looks To Silence The Controversy With Badass New Footage

“To me, you know, I cast very much from the gut and I think I was very lucky to be able to get an amazing international cast of people that I’ve always really wanted to work with,” he said. “Scarlett was one of those people, and to me there’s very few actresses who’ve had 20 years of experience, who have the cyberpunk aesthetic already baked in. You know, she comes from such edgy films from Lost in Translation to Under the Skin — she’s got an incredible body of work and the attitude and toughness of her really is to me The Major.”

When asked directly if some would find Johansson’s involvement offensive given the source material’s Japanese origins, Sanders said he stood by his decision.

“I think whenever you cast someone someone’s going to be critical about it. To me it was, you know, I stand by my decision — she’s the best actress of her generation and I was flattered and honored that she would be in this film. So many people who were around the original anime have been vehemently in support of her because she’s incredible and there are very few like her.”

READ MORE: ‘Doctor Strange’ and Beyond: IndieWire’s Critics Debate Hollywood’s Diversity Problems

Since the film’s announcement, many have come to support the choice to cast Johansson, including producer Steven Paul who said that “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.” Most recently, original anime director Mamoru Oshii talked up the film and Johansson’s casting in a new featurette.

“Ghost in the Shell” will be released in theaters on March 31 from Paramount Pictures.

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