Universal Pictures has issued an apology (via Entertainment Weekly) for dubbing Laverne Cox’s dialogue in the Italian release of “Promising Young Woman” with a male actor. The Guardian first reported on the controversy May 12, noting the actor Roberto Pedicini was featured as the voice of Cox’s character. Trans actor Vittoria Schisano told the publication that using a male actor to dub Cox was “insulting,” adding, “I’d feel bullied if I were [Cox].”
“We are deeply grateful to Laverne and the transgender community for opening our eyes to a bias that neither we nor many in our industry had recognized,” Universal said in a statement. “While there was no malicious intent behind this mistake, we are working diligently to fix it. We have begun re-dubbing Ms. Cox’s voice with female actors in our international territories and are pushing back release dates to ensure the correct version is available.”
Universal added, “We are sorry for the pain caused but are thankful that we can address the situation on this film and prevent similar mistakes from happening again on future projects.”
Cox stars in “Promising Young Woman” as Gail, a co-worker of Carey Mulligan’s Cassie at the local coffee shop. The actress spoke to Refinery29 in December 2020 about why she was so interested in joining the movie, which marks the feature directorial debut of Emerald Fennell.
“There’s nothing in the script that suggested Gail might be trans,” Cox said. “There’s nothing in the script that suggested that Gail was Black. So, I think there was something that Emerald saw in me that she wanted me to be Gail, which I am so grateful for. And for me, honestly, when I read the script, I just wanted to be in the film. I just wanted to be a part of this project because I thought it was important. And I wanted to be involved in projects that I think are important, that are having conversations and engaging in storytelling that I think is important. So, I didn’t even really care.”
“Promising Young Woman” was released in U.S. theaters by Universal-owned Focus Features, and it grossed a respectable $6.4 million at a time many theaters were still closed due to the pandemic. The movie picked up five nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards earlier this year, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for Mulligan, with Fennell winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.